Vigilance needed despite ISIS’s territorial defeat as they exploit digital sphere: Vivian Balakrishnan

The terrorist group retains a diffused global presence.

Kayla Wong | June 29, 2021, 12:23 PM

Singapore remains committed to global and regional efforts to prevent and counter the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said.

Vigilance needed as ISIS retains diffused presence globally

In a press release issued on Tuesday, June 29, MFA acknowledged that despite ISIS's territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group retains a diffused global presence by "exploiting the digital sphere to extend its networks and propagate extremism".

"Vigilance is therefore still needed," the ministry said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan spoke at the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS held at Rome on June 28.

It was reconvened after two years at the invitation of the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Vivian reaffirmed Singapore's support for the Coalition's efforts to "ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS globally and prevent attacks from returning foreign terrorist fighters".

He also warned that the threat presented by ISIS continues as the terrorist group's brand of radicalism and violence persists, including in Southeast Asia, adding that returning foreign terrorist fighters remain a clear and present danger.

Ministers from 48 countries were present at the in-person meeting.

Singapore's contribution to fighting terrorism

Vivian also highlighted Singapore's efforts to counter terrorism through "close community engagement and domestic security response preparedness", adding that the country is enhancing international intelligence sharing with "like-minded countries" through the new Counter-Terrorism Information Facility that was set up this year.

In his speech, he pointed out that Singapore was the first Southeast Asian country to "contribute personnel and assets" to the Coalition, and said that the country is "heartened" that their combined efforts have culminated in ISIS’s territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria.

He added that Singapore adopts a “not if, but when” approach to counter-terrorism.

Vivian further reiterated that "extremism and radicalisation are not confined to any single religion, race, gender or age", making a robust security response "essential but insufficient".

Singapore is committed to counter terrorism

He reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to work with Coalition members to tackle global terrorism, saying the country will continue to "work closely with the community and religious organisations to identify radicalised individuals".

"We need to win hearts and minds of people around the world and around the region," he said.

"We need trust and unity amongst different groups, and eliminate misperceptions or prejudice wherever they arise."

He continued, "Global terrorism does not respect borders, and can only be defeated through collective action."

Top image adapted via Vivian Balakrishnan/Facebook