S'poreans involved in Syrian conflict

Home Affairs Minister says Govt is aware of them, with some under investigation.

He took his wife and three children with him overseas.

Not for a holiday, but to take part in the raging civil war in Syria.

Mr Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali travelled with his wife and three children, aged between two and 11.

He is originally from India, but is now a Singapore citizen.

Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament that the Government is aware of a handful of Singaporeans who have gone to Syria to take part in the conflict there, which is now into its third year.

Like the Singaporean woman - married to a foreigner - who went there with her husband and two teenage children.

"The whole family is taking part in the conflict in various ways, either joining the terrorist groups to fight, or providing aid and support to the fighters," said Mr Teo, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Teo mentioned three other Singaporeans who had intentions to travel to Syria or other conflict zones like Iraq to join in the jihadist activities.

Others have expressed interest to join in the fighting and are under investigation.

These people and their actions mirror what is happening in many countries, including Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and the UK.


He said some 56 Indonesians and more than 30 Malaysians have joined in the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

More than 12,000 foreigners have gone to fight in Syria and it is a growing concern for many countries.

It mirrors the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s, which drew thousands of foreign fighters and eventually led to the creation of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

Several Singaporean Jemaah Islamiah members who had planned attacks here had trained in Afghanistan and returned to the South-east Asian region.

"The foreign fighters in Syria may similarly return from the conflict proficient in terrorist skills.

"They may undertake terrorist activities in their home countries or overseas, or at the very least, provide logistical and operational help to terrorists whom they befriended in Syria," said Mr Teo.

On Tuesday, two British men who went to Syria to join rebel fighters pleaded guilty to terrorism charges after the police found traces of military grade explosives on their clothing.

Mr Teo said a French national who had fought in Syria had returned home to bomb the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, killing four people in May.

This article was first published on July 10, 2014.
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