S'porean arrested under ISA for involvement in Yemen Civil War worked for foreign power as paid agent

He was paid 'substantial amounts' for collecting intelligence for the foreign power.

Sulaiman Daud | December 09, 2020, 04:00 PM

A Singaporean man named Sheik Heikel bin Khalid Bafana, 48, was detained under the Internal Security Act in March 2019 for his active involvement in the civil war in Yemen.

According to a press release from the Internal Security Department (ISD) on Dec. 9, the case is being publicised now to "underline Singapore’s stern stand" against anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence.

Volunteered to take up arms and fight

Heikel migrated to Yemen with his family in 2008, and ran a consultancy business where he advised foreign companies on security risks and business opportunities.

While in Yemen, he also worked for a "foreign power" as a paid agent.

ISD did not disclose which foreign power he worked for.

Heikel also assisted one of the factions in the civil war, which had its roots in 2011 as a political crisis.

By late 2014 and early 2015, Houthi rebels took over the capital city of Sanaa and ousted the government of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Heikel volunteered to take up arms and fight alongside this faction.

He also acted as a broker between this faction and the foreign power, in an effort to secure military equipment, supplies and funds to conduct military training.

From 2012 to 2018, Heikel also collected intelligence on Yemen on behalf of the foreign power, for which he was paid "substantial amounts", and his dealings were clandestine in nature.

Family not implicated in his activities in Yemen

Heikel and his family stayed in Yemen even after 2011, when the security situation was deteriorating and other Singaporeans were evacuated.

They eventually returned to Singapore on Feb. 5, 2019, where he was arrested under the ISA.

However, Heikel's family has not been implicated in his activities in Yemen.

ISD stated that this case was not disclosed earlier as investigations into his activities were complex, and earlier disclosure could have jeopardised the process.

ISD added:

"Regardless of how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place, such a person has demonstrated a dangerous tendency to support the use of violence. Heikel compounded this by serving the interests of a foreign power for financial gain.

By involving himself in a foreign armed conflict and working as a paid agent of a foreign power, Heikel has acted in a manner prejudicial to Singapore’s security and interests."

Update on Ahmed Fasyal

ISD also provided an update on Ahmed Faysal, the 26-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker who was arrested under the ISA in November 2020.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, he was radicalised by online propaganda and was found with multiple knives in his possession.

Ahmed Fasyal has been issued with an Order of Detention on Nov. 30, 2020 to facilitate ongoing investigations into terrorism-related activities.

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