S'pore government bans book read by ex-NSF who planned to attack Jews at synagogue

With effect from June 25.

Syahindah Ishak | June 24, 2021, 05:25 PM

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has banned a book under Singapore's Undesirable Publications Act (UPA).

The book is titled "Menyingkap Rahsia Tentera Elit Briged Izzuddin Al-Qassam: Generasi Muda Perindu Syahid".

The English translation of the title is "Uncovering the secrets of the Izz Ad-Din Al Qassam Brigades Elite Force: The Young Generation of Seekers of Martyrdom".

The book was written by Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar and Adnan M. El Halabi, and was published by Hijjaz Records Publishing in 2015.

MCI said in a Thursday (June 24) press release that the book will be banned in Singapore with effect from June 25.

Linked to radicalisation of ex-NSF

According to MCI, the publication came to the Singapore government’s notice in the course of investigations into 20-year-old Amirull Ali.

Amirull, a former full-time National Serviceman (NSF) in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in March 2021.

He had planned to carry out a violent attack on Jewish members of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue at Waterloo Street.

He had also planned to travel to Gaza in Palestine to join the military wing of Hamas and fight against Israel.

Amirull had purchased said book in 2015 while he was overseas, MCI stated in its press release.

Investigations determined that reading the publication was one of the factors that led to Amirull’s radicalisation.

Book contains extremist views

According to MCI, the publication promotes "armed jihad and contains extremist views that promote enmity among different religious communities".

MCI added that there's no place in Singapore for such materials.

"Such teachings and ideologies are detrimental to Singapore’s racial and religious harmony and relations.

The Singapore government has zero tolerance for individuals or publications which aim to incite hostility or violence among different religious groups and has therefore decided to prohibit this publication."

MUIS assessed that the book carried "problematic ideas"

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has also assessed the book, saying in a press release issued on the same day that the book carried "problematic ideas" by encouraging armed jihad, and that such persons would be "guaranteed bountiful rewards from God".

MUIS also noted that the book was a contributing factor in the Amirull's radicalisation.

MUIS urged the community to be wary of such publications, and the views and thinking behind them.

"The promotion of extremist religious views and ideologies that promote violence, enmity and distrust are not the values of Islam or the Singapore Muslim Community."

Statements from Josephine Teo and Rahayu Mahzam

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, as well as Parliamentary Secretary for MCI Rahayu Mahzam, have also spoken about the publication's ban on their Facebook pages.

Teo said:

"Continued vigilance is a must, as is a focus on the never-ending task of building friendship, trust and confidence in one another, regardless of race and religion. Keep careful watch over the young to protect our future as one people."

Meanwhile, Rahayu wrote:

"As Muslims, we also need to stand up against teachings that are against the core values of Islam. We have to continue to work together with the community, including with our youth, to promote peace, mutual understanding and cooperation amongst people of different faiths."

Punishments offenders face

It is an offence to import, publish, sell or offer to sell, supply or offer to supply, exhibit, distribute or reproduce any prohibited publication or an extract of one in Singapore.

It is also an offence for any person to possess or come into possession of a prohibited publication, but fail to deliver the copy to the police.

Members of the public who are in possession of the publication should hand them to the police.

Those convicted of an offence could be jailed, fined, or both.

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Top images via Internal Security Department & Google Maps.