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HomesingaporeSecurity stepped up at some places amid Israel-Hamas war; S’poreans must stay...

Security stepped up at some places amid Israel-Hamas war; S’poreans must stay vigilant: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE – Patrols are being stepped up at events and places in Singapore in the light of the situation in Gaza, while places that may be possible targets for attack have had their security reassessed, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said on Thursday.

Security agencies here are watching the situation closely, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority has also stepped up its measures, he added.

This includes increasing the security presence for places deemed to be of higher risk, said Mr Shanmugam.

“For operational reasons, I cannot tell you the exact plans, but additional measures have been taken,” he told reporters at his ministry’s headquarters in Novena.

Singapore’s moves come as other countries have taken similar measures following the developing conflict in the Middle East.

Britain, Canada, France and Germany are among nations stepping up security around potential Jewish targets and pro-Palestinian demonstrations erupting in cities.

Terrorist groups will try to exploit such conflicts, and Singaporeans must stay vigilant, said Mr Shanmugam.

Some groups have already issued calls for followers to join a wider jihad against Israel, and there have been reports of anti-Semitic attacks overseas, he noted.

“This is a period everyone has to be more alert and careful because Singapore is an attractive target,” he said.

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Singapore will act against anyone who promotes or espouses extremism and terrorism – a stance the Republic has made clear over the years, he added.

The Government has detained Singaporeans under the Internal Security Act because they fell for the pro-Hamas narratives and wanted to fight, he said.

They include a 20-year-old man detained in March 2021 who had wanted to travel to Gaza to fight alongside Hamas. He had also planned a knife attack against Jews at a synagogue here.

Amirull Ali, who was a full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces when he was arrested in February 2021, had planned to target three Jewish men after their Saturday congregational prayers at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street.

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Another man, Mohamed Khairul Riduan Mohamed Sarip, 38, was detained in November 2022 following his plans to travel to Gaza to fight alongside Hamas after watching videos online.

Khairul, a teacher with the Ministry of Education, had been self-radicalised and had watched videos by radical foreign preachers which discussed the concept of armed jihad in defence of Islam.

To avoid security scrutiny, Khairul had planned to travel to Gaza under the guise of providing humanitarian aid. 

Singapore has also detained individuals who intended to attack Muslim targets here, noted Mr Shanmugam.

They include a 16-year-old boy who was detained in December 2020.

The boy had planned to launch knife attacks against Muslims at two mosques in Singapore after he was influenced by the 2019 Christchurch attack in New Zealand.

He had made detailed plans and preparations to conduct terrorist attacks at the Assyafaah Mosque in Sembawang and Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands, both of which are near his home, on the second anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack.

“So far, we have managed to avoid letting international events like these destabilise us within Singapore,” said Mr Shanmugam.

“This is going to be quite a tough period, but our fundamental attitude cannot change: We are all Singaporeans, we have a precious peace within Singapore, and we must never let external events affect that.”

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