ISIS threat has grown, says DPM Teo

ISIS threat has grown, says DPM Teo
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean notes that The Battle For Merger will shed light on a critical period in Singapore's history.

SINGAPORE - As the Middle East terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) grows, the threat to Singapore has also gone up, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

Mentioning that at least two Singapore citizens are known to have gone to Syria to take part in the fight, he said any Singaporean that does so will have to face the full extent of the law.

"Any Singaporean who assists, supports, promotes or joins violent organisations like ISIL would have demonstrated a dangerous tendency to support the use of violence," said Mr Teo, referring to the terrorist outfit by its other name, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"Such a person poses a real threat to Singapore's national security and will be dealt with in accordance with our laws."

Singapore is a co-sponsor of an anti-terrorism resolution approved by the United Nations Security Council. The resolution requires nations to adopt laws criminalising nationals who join extremist groups like ISIS.

Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, added that the Government's approach will be "carefully calibrated" to the specifics of each case.

Where necessary, the Internal Security Act - which grants the Government the discretion to detain people without trial - will be used to pre-empt and neutralise terrorism threats that endanger the security of the country and its citizens.

Referring to the known "handful of Singaporeans" who have left for Syria to join the fight - and are last reported to still be there - he added: "We will continue to investigate anyone who expresses support for terrorism or an interest to pursue violence."

Security agencies in Singapore are also keeping close tabs on the situation in Syria and Iraq, working with their partners to exchange information.

Mr Teo was responding to Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng's question in Parliament on whether ISIS' recent atrocities - including the beheading of four Western hostages so far - would pose an increased security threat to Singapore.

There is currently no information on any specific threat to the country arising from these beheadings, or as a result of anti-ISIS attacks led by the United States, said Mr Teo.

But he added: "Our assessment remains that the expansion of the ISIL threat beyond Syria and Iraq has raised the threat not only to countries which are part of the US coalition, but also to Singapore. As with the threat from Al-Qaeda, even if Singapore is not itself a target, foreign interests here may be targeted."

In 2001, a Jemaah Islamiah plot to bomb embassies here - including the US Embassy - was foiled.

Mr Teo added that members of the public should remain alert and report suspicious individuals, objects and activities to the authorities.

"A timely call to the authorities could well save many innocent lives. By working together, we can make Singapore a safer place for everyone," he said.

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