A 29-year-old Singaporean has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Radjev Lal s/o Madan Lal, a 29-year-old mover at a logistics company, was detained in April 2022 after he was self-radicalised and made preparations to engage in armed conflicts overseas, said the Internal Security Department (ISD) on May 10.
His journey towards radicalisation began in 2013 when he was introduced to the Islamic eschatological teachings of Imran Hosein; a Trinidadian and Tobagonian radical preacher who is currently banned from entering Singapore due to his radical preachings.
Eschatology is a branch of theology that concerns the final days of the world and humankind.
Influenced by online teachings
Imran's eschatological prophecies, such as the Islamic apocalypse and the rise of the Black Flag Army (BFA) — a Muslim army carrying black flags during the End of Times — resonated with Radjev who was interested in conspiracy theories.
His radicalisation escalated over time with the online teachings of other foreign radical preachers. The teachings include sermons by Anwar Al-Awlaki — a deceased leader of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda — and Musa Cerantonio — an Australian who was imprisoned for terrorism-related offences.
Convinced to engage in armed violence
The ISD said in its press release that Radjev was convinced that he was religiously obligated to participate in armed violence with the BFA to "kill the 'enemies' of Islam".
"In his view, these 'enemies' included non-Muslims who meddled in Islamic affairs, as well as Western countries like the US and Israel," the release stated.
Radjev also believed that he would earn rewards in the afterlife if he died a martyr on the battlefield together with the BFA.
He tried to convince and recruit his family members and friends to join him in his radical views, including his plans to engage in armed violence.
A social media group was also created to spread his radical ideology to his online contacts, but none of his family members and friends in Singapore responded positively, said the ISD.
Preparations to undertake armed violence
Radjev believed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were plausible manifestations of the BFA at various points in time.
In 2014, Radjev conducted research and planned his travel route to Syria, intending to join ISIS. The idea was abandoned when Imran posted a video which disputed ISIS as the BFA.
"Nonetheless, Radjev continued to make preparations for armed violence, including practising knifing techniques," said the ISD.
Willing to attack Singapore
Despite his willingness to join the armed conflict overseas, Radjev did not have any "specific attack plans against Singapore". However, according to the ISD, Radjev said that he was willing to do it against Singapore or its interests overseas if ordered by Imran or the BFA.
At the time of his arrest, Radjev believed that the Taliban might have represented the BFA and he was making preparations to join the extremist group in Afghanistan.
Firm action to be taken
ISD reiterated that firm action will be taken against anyone in Singapore who "supports, promotes, undertakes or make preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence, or when the violence takes place."
The agency elaborated that Radjev's case is an example of how Singaporeans are vulnerable to extremist ideologies that are spread through religious preachers or ideologues, including those on online platforms.
It is paramount that individuals seek advice and guidance from credible local religious authorities and sources when in doubt, cautioned the ISD.
Two individuals released from detention
Separately, two self-radicalised Singaporeans were released from detention under the ISA in January and February 2022 after they showed good progress in their rehabilitation and were assessed to no longer pose a security threat requiring preventive detention.
They are Hazim Syahmi bin Mahfoot, who was detained in January 2019, and Ruqayyah binti Ramli, who was detained in April 2021.
Hazim was previously influenced by his associate's radical outlook and believed that he should participate in armed violence against "perceived enemies of his religion".
Ruqayyah was radicalised by her husband and supported his decision to join ISIS in Syria.
Staying vigilant to signs of radicalisation
The ISD advised the public to be vigilant to signs of radicalisation. Possible signs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- frequently surfing radical websites
- posting/sharing extremist views on social media platforms, such as expressing support/admiration for terrorists/terrorist groups as well as the use of violence
- sharing their extremist views with friends and relatives
- making remarks that promote ill-will or hatred towards people of other races or religions
- expressing intent to participate in acts of violence overseas or in Singapore
- inciting others to participate in acts of violence
You should call the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline (1800-2626-473) if you know or suspect someone to be radicalised.
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Top Photo: Left image from MHA Facebook, right image from ISD