M'sian man working in S'pore planned to go to Syria with S'porean wife to join ISIS

He was arrested under the the Internal Security Act in July 2020.

Jane Zhang | February 09, 2021, 12:00 PM

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A 33-year-old Malaysian man who was working as a cleaner in Singapore was arrested under the the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Jul. 2020.

Mohd Firdaus bin Kamal Intdzam was a supporter of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

His wife, a 34-year-old Singaporean, was issued Restriction Order (RO) under the ISA for two years in Aug. 2020 after investigations found that she had been radicalised by her husband.

Began becoming radicalised in 2016

According to a Feb. 9 press release by the Internal Security Department (ISD), Firdaus began being radicalised in 2016 when he turned to the Internet to deepen his religious knowledge.

Online, he encountered ISIS propaganda.

Through sustained exposure to pro-ISIS materials, by early 2018 Firdaus was convinced that ISIS was fighting for Islam, and that its use of violence to create an Islamic caliphate was justified.

He also regarded ISIS’s self-declared Caliph, the deceased Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the true Islamic ruler.

Firdaus remained a fervent supporter of ISIS, even with the demise of ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. He actively posted materials promoting ISIS and armed jihad on his social media accounts.

He even created an ISIS flag in March 2020, which he hung at home to show his loyalty towards the group.

Planned to travel to Syria with wife to fight alongside ISIS

Firdaus believed that armed jihad was compulsory for all able-bodied Muslim men.

He planned to travel to Syria with his wife to fight alongside ISIS, and aspired to die as a martyr in the battlefield in order to receive "divine rewards".

He was also willing to carry out attacks against countries which he deemed to be oppressing Muslims, or which he perceived to be munafiq (hypocrite) for aligning themselves with the West.

Investigations did not surface any indication that Firdaus had made any specific attack plans, or intended to mount any acts of violence in Singapore.

ISD worked closely with the Malaysian Special Branch (MSB) on the investigations into Firdaus.

His Work Pass was cancelled and he was repatriated to Malaysia and handed over to MSB in Aug. 2020, after ISD’s investigation into him was completed.

Wife issued with Restriction Order

Firdaus' wife, 34-year-old Singaporean Ruqayyah binti Ramli, was issued with a Restriction Order (RO) under the ISA for a period of two years in Aug. 2020 after investigations found that she had been radicalised by her husband.

Ruqayyah and Firdaus had gotten married in Dec. 2018, after which Firdaus began to influence Ruqayyah with his pro-ISIS views.

While Ruqayyah initially had doubts, over time she began to believe that ISIS’s use of violence against perceived oppressors of Islam — including non-Muslims and Shi’ites — was justified.

Ruqayyah also supported Firdaus’ intentions to join ISIS and take up arms in Syria. She was willing to accompany him to Syria, and intended to bring her two children along.

She believed that her role in the conflict zone would be to take care of the family through cooking and housework, and to assist other wounded ISIS fighters.

ISD's investigations did not find any indication that Ruqayyah had attempted to spread her pro-ISIS views to others.

Due to her Restriction Order, Ruqayyah, who was a housewife and part-time freelance religious teacher, is not permitted to change her residence or employment, or travel out of Singapore, without the prior approval of the Director ISD.

She also cannot issue public statements; address public meetings or print, distribute, or contribute to any publication; or hold office in, or be a member of any organisation, association, or group without the prior approval of Director ISD.

Ruqayyah’s Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) accreditation, which she obtained in September 2017, has been suspended. As part of her Restriction Order conditions, she is also not allowed to conduct religious classes.

She is presently undergoing religious counselling to steer her away from her radical path.

Influence of extremism still present and dangerous: Muis

In a statement on Tuesday (Feb. 9), Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said that the case of Ruqayyah is a "grim reminder that the influence of extremism is still present and dangerous today, especially from online sources".

Muis added that the fact that Ruqayyah was influenced by Firdaus to the point where she was willing to go with him and their two children to Syria "demonstrates the danger of how such teachings can spread, and the importance for family members to report such developments to the authorities for timely intervention".

"We hope that Ms Ruqayyah will steer away from her radical path after religious counselling," the religious council stated.

"Muis has always maintained that Islam and the Singapore Muslim community firmly rejects and condemn acts of violence in the name of religion.

We urge family members, friends, students and colleagues to report any individual espousing violent or extremist ideologies to the relevant authorities quickly for timely intervention."

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Top photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images.