27 Bangladeshi workers arrested in Singapore for alleged links with extremists

January 22, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sheuli Akter

Twenty-seven Bangladeshi nationals working in the construction industry in Singapore have been arrested for having alleged connections with extremists.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs in a statement posted at its website on Wednesday made the announcement saying 26 of the arrested Bangladeshis who supported Islamist groups including al Qaeda and the Islamic State, have already been deported.

The wealthy South East Asian country said Bangladeshis were arrested in November and December under the Internal Security Act.

The Home Ministry statement said twenty six were deported, while the last one was jailed for attempting to leave Singapore illegally after hearing of the arrest of the others.

“Twenty six of them were members of a closed religious study group that subscribed to extremist beliefs and teachings of radical ideologues like Anwar al-Awlaki. They supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” said the statement.

It said the remaining Bangladeshi national was not a member of the group, but was found to be in the process of becoming radicalised and was supportive of extremist preachers. He also possessed jihadi-related material.

According to the statement, “the group members took measures to avoid detection by the authorities. They shared jihadi-related material discreetly among themselves, and held weekly meetings and gatherings where they discussed armed jihad and conflicts that involved Muslims. They also carefully targeted the recruitment of other Bangladeshi nationals to grow their membership.”

It said: “A number of the group members admitted that they subscribed to the belief that they should participate and wage armed jihad on behalf of their religion. Several of them contemplated travelling to and participating in armed jihad in the Middle East. Additionally, some of the group members supported the violent actions of extremist/terrorist groups that killed Shi’ites because they considered Shi’ites to be “deviant”.

These Bangladeshi nationals also bore grievances against the Bangladeshi government over its actions against some Bangladeshi Islamic groups and leaders, said the statement and added members were encouraged to return to Bangladesh and wage armed jihad against the Bangladeshi government. “They had also sent monetary donations to entities believed to be linked to extremist groups in Bangladesh.”

According to the statement, “A significant amount of radical and jihadi-related material like books and videos, including footage of children undergoing training in what appeared to be terrorist military camps, were recovered from the possession of the group. Several members also had a shared document containing graphic images and instruction details on how to conduct “silent killings” using different methods and weapons.”

The statement said investigations disclosed that while several members of the group had considered carrying out armed violence overseas, they were not planning any terrorist attacks in Singapore.

“The Work Passes of the Bangladeshi nationals have been cancelled; 26 of them have been repatriated to Bangladesh where the authorities have been informed of the circumstances of their repatriation. The remaining Bangladeshi national is currently serving a jail sentence for attempting to leave Singapore via illegal and clandestine means after learning about the arrests of his fellow group members. He will be repatriated to Bangladesh upon completion of his sentence.”

The Singapore Home Ministry said the government takes a very serious view of any form of support for terrorism and will take firm and decisive action against any person who engages in any activity in support of terrorism.

“Foreigners are guests of our country and they should not abuse this privilege and use Singapore as a base to import their own domestic political agenda and carry out activities in pursuit of such an agenda. In the same way, foreign religious speakers who propagate divisive doctrines which could lead to mistrust, enmity and hatred among local religious groups and undermine Singapore’s social cohesion are not welcomed and will not be allowed to operate in Singapore.”

“Any person, foreigner or otherwise, who engages in any activity that is inimical to Singapore’s national security and racial and religious harmony will be firmly dealt with under the law. Anyone who knows or suspects that a person has been radicalised, or is engaging in extremist activities or propagating extremist teachings, should promptly inform the Internal Security Department (1800-2626-473) or the Police (999).”

 

 

 

 

Sheuli Akter

Sheuli Akter, from Bangladesh, is a Special Correspondent and Editor of NsNewsWire, (Bangladesh’s First Press Newswire).  Previously she had worked for Bangladesh’ top news agency, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) and top newspaper (now defunct) The Bangladesh Observer. She also gained an honourable mention in the first ever World Media Summit WMS Awards for ‘Exemplary News Professionals in Developing Countries’, receiving the award in Beijing in January 2015.

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