S'pore man under probe for 'going to fight in Syria'

A Singaporean man is being investigated for allegedly going to Syria "with the intention to undertake violence" in the ongoing armed conflict there, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.

Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali, a 37-year-old supermarket manager, is a former Indian national who obtained his Singapore citizenship in 2008.

A member of the public informed the authorities of his alleged trip to fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime after he had left Singapore last November.

The MHA confirmed it is investigating the allegations.

The ministry also said the authorities established that Gul Mohamed Maracachi Maraicar, a 37-year-old Indian national and former Singapore permanent resident, helped to radicalise Haja and assisted him in his plans to participate in armed violence in Syria.

Gul, who worked as a system analyst here, was investigated under the Internal Security Act. He was deported and banned from entering Singapore for his role in abetting and aiding Haja.

When The Sunday Times asked when Gul was investigated or deported, an MHA spokesman said it "does not comment on operational matters".

Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times reported that Haja and Gul were village friends before meeting here in 2007. It said this was the "first direct evidence" that Indian-origin Islamists have joined the Syrian conflict which started in 2011.

Protests began in March that year when Syrian citizens showed their unhappiness with more than four decades of rule by President Assad and his family.

The MHA spokesman said in a statement: "We would like to remind the public to alert the authorities if they suspect that a friend or family member has become radicalised or who is planning to undertake armed violence overseas."


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