Singapore detains two 'self-radicalised' teenagers

SINGAPORE - Singapore has detained two "self-radicalised" teenagers, including one who was planning to join the Islamic State group and carry out violent attacks in the city-state, the government said Wednesday.

M. Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i, 19, a Singaporean student, was detained in April under the country's tough Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement.

Another 17-year-old Singaporean student was detained in May also under the ISA "for further investigations to the extent of his radicalisation", the ministry said without providing his name or further details of his actions.

The first suspect, Arifil, a post-secondary student, had made plans to join the IS group after viewing "terrorist propaganda online", MHA said.

"He grew to support the radical ideology and violent tactics of ISIS, and befriended individuals online whom he thought could help him join ISIS," the MHA said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group which has overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq in a bid to create an Islamic caliphate there.

"More importantly, Arifil also revealed that if he was unable to join ISIS in Syria, he intended to carry out violent attacks in Singapore," MHA said.

"He gave considerable thought to how he would attack key facilities and assassinate government leaders," it added.

"Arifil is the first known self-radicalised Singaporean to harbour the intention to carry out violent attacks in Singapore," the statement continued.

Singapore, one of Asia's most affluent cities and a regional base for thousands of multinational companies, is a prime target for attacks by militant groups chiefly because it is an ally of the United States and other Western countries, according to security analysts.

The government last July said it is aware of two Singaporeans currently fighting in Syria along with their families.

The city-state is part of the US-led coalition fighting the IS group.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has previously said local authorities are concerned about the potential formation of a Southeast Asian branch of IS, with jihadists from the region returning home after fighting in Iraq and Syria.

In late 2001, Singapore arrested several suspected members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network and foiled a plot to bomb the US embassy and other western targets in the country.