Singaporean held under ISA for bid to join Thai rebels

Singaporean held under ISA for bid to join Thai rebels
Thai security personnel inspect the wreckage of a military truck after a bomb attack by suspected Muslim militants on a roadside near a railway in Yala province, south of Bangkok July 11, 2013. Eight soldiers were injured in the explosion on their way to providing security for teachers travelling to a school, police said.

A Singaporean who was influenced by online radical ideology tried to join Thai rebels in their armed insurgency, and has now been detained for two years under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Asyrani Hussaini was detained in March after trying to engage in violence overseas, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Thursday. He had been radicalised by Internet literature and "pursued specific action" to participate in the insurgency, where Muslim separatists have been battling for autonomy.

Asyrani tried to establish contact with the insurgents, MHA added, and when he failed to, he entered South Thailand illegally.

The 24-year-old was unsuccessful in attempts to link up with the rebels, and entered another regional country - which the ministry did not name - illegally.

There, he was arrested and convicted of immigration offences, MHA said. After his jail term, he was deported to Singapore and arrested under the ISA.

Observers said until Asyrani, they had not heard of any Singaporeans who tried to join the Thai insurgency, which began in 2004.

Still, the case seemed more of an "ad hoc self-radicalisation" by one individual, said Dr Kumar Ramakrishna, head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security.

"There is no reason to think that there might be an institutional network recruiting people from Singapore to Thailand."

But Ustaz Yusri Yubhi Yusoff, a member of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, said the case showed that Singapore must continue to create awareness of the dangers of online radicalisation.

MHA also said Mustafa Kamal Mohammad was placed on a restriction order for two years from Tuesday. The 58-year-old was a member of the militant group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines, had trained at one of its camps and raised funds for the organisation.

He left Singapore in 2001 and stayed overseas after learning of the security operation against the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group that started in December of that year. He returned in January this year.

Someone under a restriction order cannot change his residence, employment or travel out of Singapore without official approval. He also cannot issue public statements or join organisations without approval.

JI members Jahpar Osman and Samad Subari, and Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad, who aided MILF in procuring funds and weapon components, were also released from detention between April and July, MHA said.

They have been released under restriction orders.

Finally, restriction orders on JI members Arifin Ali and Mohammad Sharif Rahmat, and MILF member Ahmad Jalaluddin Sanawi, were allowed to lapse between May and last month.

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