Singaporean detained over ISIS activities

Singapore

A 44-year-old Singaporean, who openly supported the ISIS and contributed to radicalisation of other Singaporeans aiming at installing an Islamic State in the country, has been detained for two years, authorities said today.

Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff was arrested and detained in Singapore this month for terrorism-related activities, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement. 

He actively spread radical ideology online and has been detained under the Internal Security Act for two years.

"Zulfikar has admitted that he had an ulterior motive for setting up a Facebook page called Al-Makhazin Singapore which he used as a platform to agitate on Muslim issues in Singapore and attack some Singaporean Muslims who did not share his views.

"His real agenda was in fact to provoke Muslims in Singapore into pushing for the replacement of the democratic system with an Islamic state in Singapore. He said that he hid his ulterior motive from the Singaporean 'Al-Makhazin Singapore' members," the statement said.

Zulfikar made numerous Facebook posts that promoted and glorified the dreaded ISIS and its violent actions such as beheadings, "while exploiting religion to legitimise the terrorist activities of ISIS", the ministry said.

"He has further exhorted Muslims to take up arms and wage militant jihad in places like the Middle East, Palestinian territories, Myanmar and the Philippines," it added.

His Facebook posts contributed to the radicalisation of at least two other Singaporeans.

MHA said Zulfikar had started becoming radicalised as early as 2001 after reading hardline material, supporting groups like al-Qaeda and the Jemaah Islamiah, and advocating for Muslims to take up arms in Afghanistan after the 9/11.

Zulfikar came under the spotlight in 2002 for challenging mainstream Muslim leaders and agitating for primary schoolgirls to be allowed to wear the headscarf in schools here.

Zulfikar also cultivated an Internet following by setting up an online group called Al-Makhazin in 2013. He used Facebook to create numerous Al-Makhazin platforms, such as Al-Makhazin Singapore, with the claimed purpose of countering Western media.

He had been living in Australia for 14 years and had left Singapore with his family shortly after run-ins with Muslim leaders and the authorities.

He joined a UK-based hardline organisation called Hizbut Tahrir and established and maintained contact with radical preachers such as Musa Cerantonio in Australia and radical British preacher Anjem Choudary, said MHA.

PTI