Singaporean student who planned to attack mosques released from ISA detention after ‘good progress’ in rehabilitation

Singaporean student who planned to attack mosques released from ISA detention after 'good progress' in rehabilitation

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean student who was detained in December 2020 for making “detailed plans and preparations to conduct terrorist attacks” against Muslims has been released after making “good progress” in his rehabilitation, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said on Wednesday (Jan 24).

The 19-year-old, who was 16 when he was detained, was the first Singaporean to be dealt with under the country’s Internal Security Act (ISA) for being radicalised by far-right extremist ideologies. 

He had planned to use a machete to attack Muslims at two mosques in the Woodlands area on Mar 15, 2020, the second anniversary of New Zealand’s Christchurch attacks.

He chose Assyafaah Mosque and Yusof Ishak Mosque as targets because they were near his home.

The youth, who was not named, is a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity. He was also the youngest person to be dealt with under the ISA for terrorism-related activities, ISD said at the time. 

ISD said the self-radicalised teen was “motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence”.

He had been influenced by the 2019 terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch and read the manifesto of the attacker, Brenton Tarrant.

Following three years of detention, ISD said the youth was released and issued with a suspension direction as he had made “good progress in his rehabilitation” and was “assessed to no longer pose an imminent security threat”.

A suspension direction is a ministerial direction to suspend an existing detention order. The suspension direction may be revoked and the individual will be re-detained if he does not comply with any of the stipulated conditions.

The conditions include prohibition from associating with any militant or terrorist groups or individuals, and the person is not allowed to leave the country without approval. 

It was revealed on Wednesday that another teenager, 16, has become the second Singaporean to be dealt with under the ISA for being self-radicalised by far-right extremist ideology.

The ISD said that the youth, who is of Chinese ethnicity, identified as a white supremacist and aspired to conduct attacks overseas. However, beyond online searches for weapons, he did not take steps to actualise his attack aspirations.