Tuesday 17 November 2015

Be mentally prepared to deal with terror attack if it happens: PM Lee

PM Lee, in warning to Singaporeans, says Republic sits in region where ISIS is active
By Walter Sim, In Antalya, Turkey, The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday warned Singaporeans that the violence wrought on Paris last Friday could happen in Singapore and they have to be psychologically prepared for it.

"We are in the middle of a region (where) ISIS is active," he said, referring to terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Some 700 South-east Asians have gone to the Middle East to join ISIS, including some Singaporeans.

Mr Lee made the point at a press conference with Singapore reporters at the end of the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit here, where terrorism was a key topic, including tackling the growing flow of foreign fighters into the ranks of ISIS.

The actions of ISIS, he added, were a "completely perverted and wrong interpretation" of Islam.

"It is not true Islam, in the way the vast majority of believers, of Muslims, interpret the religion," Mr Lee said.

But ISIS members declare themselves Muslims even though they know very little of Islam, he noted.

So in a way, to say they had nothing to do with religion was also an "oversimplification".

"The reality is the majority of Muslims do not subscribe to this. Religious leaders in Singapore, particularly Muslim religious leaders, have come out very clearly and firmly to condemn ISIS and this perverted interpretation and inhumane practice," he added.

Mr Lee was also asked how Singapore would gauge whether it was successful in the war against ISIS.

He cited three lines of action.

First, Singapore has to ensure its people understand the issue and maintain cohesion and trust. "There is a clear stand taken that this is... against Islam, against Singapore's interest, against social harmony."

Second, Singapore tries its best to ensure that nothing untoward happens in the country, as one failure would mean a disastrous incident.

Third, it is helping in the fight against ISIS by joining the global coalition to fight the terror group. "We are already being targeted and we have to stand up and participate and help in the effort to tackle the problem," he added.

Mr Lee said global leaders agree that the problem is urgent, and there is a substantial degree of cooperation going on among countries that is often not talked about, as it involves intelligence and security matters.

Singapore is not a member of the G-20, but was one of six countries invited as an observer this year.

The latest summit had covered issues such as development and sustainable growth, terrorism, taxes, and the global economy.

Given the significance of these issues to Singapore, Mr Lee said: "It's very valuable to us to be able to be at the table, participating in the discussion, contributing our ideas and having some influence on what people think."

Singapore, which was invited to five of the last six G-20 summits, will again attend the summit in Hangzhou, China, next year.

Mr Lee also estimated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, concluded recently by 12 countries, including the United States, Australia and Japan, could save Singapore about $1 billion a year in tariffs.

Although Singapore has bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) with all but two countries in the TPP, it will still stand to benefit from an expanded Rules of Origin - the set of criteria that decides whether a product qualifies for FTA concessions.

"This means that when we're selling to America, you don't have to have (a product) all made in Singapore. You can have some parts from Japan or Australia, and then add it all up," Mr Lee said.

The recent terror attacks in Paris, Ankara and elsewhere remind us that the terrorist threat affects all of us....
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, November 15, 2015

G-20 Summit

Tackle terror on multiple fronts: PM Lee
By Walter Sim, In Antalya, Turkey, The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2015

The scourge of terrorism, as seen in the coordinated attacks in Paris on Friday, is a long-time problem that calls for a multi-pronged approach, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

It also requires countries to be resolute in dealing with extremists at home while cooperating closely with other nations so that terrorists are left "in no doubt that they are up against a formidable coalition of countries that are determined to stop them".

Mr Lee set out his thoughts on ways to combat this global challenge at the annual Group of 20 Summit of world leaders in Turkey . He said focusing efforts only on the extremists who are going to physically commit attacks is not enough."You have to deal with the ideology and the social fabric from which they could spring," he added.

Terrorism was high on the agenda of the two-day summit, which traditionally centres on the economy. The reason: the meeting took place just two days after terrorists ripped through Paris, killing at least 129 and injuring more than 350.

#G20 Leaders agreed on a strong statement on the fight against terrorism
Posted by G20Turkey on Monday, November 16, 2015

There are no easy solutions, Mr Lee said, noting that terrorism is a transnational problem as terrorists can cross borders freely. He said: "The fight belongs to all of us and we've to be willing to step up and stand up in solidarity with one another against the terrorists.

"We cannot avoid this problem, much less solve it, by hiding or by keeping silent, hoping the scourge will pass us by, on the other side."

The scourge of terrorism is felt keenly in Turkey, which shares a 900km border with Syria and is the main entry point for foreign fighters heading to join terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Last month, double suicide bombings in Ankara killed 102 people.

A bomb attack is also suspected to have brought down a Russian airliner over the neighbouring Sinai Peninsula on Oct31, killing all 224 on board.

In his speech, Mr Lee noted that South-east Asia, including Singapore, has not escaped the ISIS threat. The region is a key recruiting ground and enough have joined the militant group to form a battalion, he added.

Hence, Singapore has joined an international coalition against ISIS, and deployed a KC-135 refuelling tanker and an Image Analysis Team.

Its security agencies share intelligence with foreign counterparts, while border security has also been strengthened to stop would-be terrorists from entering the country.

Steps to foil ISIS have also been taken at home, Mr Lee said.

The Internal Security Act provides for terrorists to be detained without trial - before they do any harm.

"But we don't just lock them away and throw away the key. We strive to rehabilitate the detainees."

On the ideology and social fabric fronts, Singapore brings the different communities together to fight the terror threat, he said.

This includes the Government holding candid closed-door dialogues with community leaders of all races and religions, and sharing with them intelligence gathered.

Muslim religious leaders have also formed a Religious Rehabilitation Group that counsels terror detainees and counters radical ideology, Mr Lee added.

Of the 70 people detained for terrorism-related activities since the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, about three quarters have been rehabilitated and released.

"Other than a handful, none have relapsed," he said. "I think it can be said to be a reasonably successful rehabilitation effort."

Threat posed by extremism's latest incarnation 'very serious': PM Lee
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 16 Nov 2015

Earlier this month, an alert immigration checkpoint officer discovered that two men who arrived by ferry and were about to enter Singapore were on their way to Turkey and Syria, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

They had tickets to Turkey, and were sent back to Indonesia, where the local police questioned them before releasing them, he added, in comments that underline the seriousness of the threat that terrorism poses to South-east Asia.

Mr Lee cited this incident in an interview in Singapore last Friday with Mr Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian newspaper, that is due to be published today.

A transcript of the interview was released to Singapore media.

Mr Sheridan had asked whether the Syria imbroglio was making the threat more acute, with some 700 South-east Asians fighting with terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

PM Lee replied that, while the issue of extremism had been around before the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, its latest incarnation is "very serious" as ISIS has territory and seduced hundreds from the region to travel there.

"A few from Singapore are there and close to a dozen have tried to go there. We have stopped them and headed them off," he said. He noted that ISIS had managed to attract members of the military: Malaysia recently arrested two commandos for ISIS links, and about a dozen personnel have such links.

While the number of Indonesians with ISIS is a small proportion of the population, it is a big enough number to cause trouble. At the same time, some terrorists in jail have pledged allegiance to ISIS. Several hundred are due to have their terms run out this year or next.

Mr Lee was also asked why such ideology had proven so persistent and difficult to counter.

"It is a very difficult problem. It is not purely religion and yet it is not unrelated to a certain warped view of religion," he said. "Some people genuinely persuade themselves that this is the way to Heaven and so they pursue this perverted path. Others know very little about religion or doctrine. Something has gone (wrong) with their life and this is their way to hit out at the world or at their society."

Others are young people at the soul-searching stage of their lives who get misled, he said. Singapore has picked up students who were still in school, became interested in the ideology and got in deeper and deeper despite having no network or radical friends.

He also noted that, while about 70 people have been detained since 2001, over three-quarters have been released. Most have stayed clean; one has relapsed.

"There are a few whom I do not know how we will ever release them, or how we will release them for a very long time because they are very hardcore," he said, noting that the US had not been able to close Guantanamo Bay.

HEIGHTENED VIGILANCEThe SAF has implemented heightened security measures in view of the terrorist attacks in Paris....
Posted by The Singapore Army on Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ng Eng Hen on terrorism: 'Singapore never let down its guard even during golden jubilee celebrations'
By Tan Hui Yee, Thailand Correspondent, The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2015

BANGKOK - Singapore may have been celebrating its 50th anniversary all year, but its security agencies have never let down their guard against terrorists like the one that attacked Paris over the weekend, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Monday (Nov 16).

Speaking to Singapore media in Bangkok while on the two-day visit to reaffirm and strengthen bilateral defence ties, he said: "We have constantly been on the lookout… despite this year being (our) golden jubilee, it has never been off our minds."

But preventing such attacks was "extremely difficult", he said.

"We have to be vigilant all the time and the terrorists need only to break through your defence just once to wreak extreme havoc as they have done in Paris.

"And really, if you talk to security agencies anywhere in the world, there is no foolproof defence against someone whose mission is take down as many lives and (is) willing to lose his life in that process."

Ng Eng Hen on terrorism: "We have constantly been on the lookout…despite this year being our golden jubilee, it has never been off our minds." str.sg/ZaXE
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, November 16, 2015

Singapore has "stepped up vigilance" in its military installations, especially air and naval bases, after the Paris attacks. But "we have to learn to live with" the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The reality is that individuals from the region have returned from overseas after being trained by ISIS, and "they come back with the motivation to harm".

But, "just as we overcame the Jemaah Islamiyah, if we come together if we continue to exercise vigilance, we continue to be alert, I'm confident that we can overcome this threat," he said, referring to the South-east Asian affiliate of the Al-Qaeda militant group, which engineered the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in the United States.

Terrorism is an ongoing threat and it can strike anytime, anywhere. Only alertness and vigilance will allow Singapore...
Posted by cyberpioneer on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Paris terror attacks

Singapore 'has to boost efforts against terror threat online'
Any attack here would likely be carried out by self-radicalised individuals, say experts
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 18 Nov 2015

Singapore is not an easy target.

Even so, if terrorists were to strike it, the attack would likely be carried out by "self-radicalised" individuals consumed by terrorist ideology on the Internet.

Terrorism experts told The Straits Times that this is why Singapore needs to redouble its efforts to tackle the terror threat online.

The issue is something that should be "front and centre" for Singapore, said Dr Kumar Ramakrishna, head of policy studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has a big, strong social media presence and we know they are making a strong effort to target South-east Asian Muslims."

The militant group claimed responsibility for the Nov 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured over 350.

The authorities here have repeatedly warned of the threat of ISIS, noting that hundreds from the region have joined the fight in Syria, including a few from Singapore.

Two Singaporeans were detained under the Internal Security Act in August for planning to do just that. They had been radicalised by online ISIS propaganda, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in September.

Dr Kumar said the community here must build "mental firewalls" so that it would be more resilient to such ideology.

"What is happening online is difficult to control," said Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. "Singapore has to invest and build online platforms to counter terrorism - there has to be an effort to work with the community on this."

He noted that there are already strong efforts offline, pointing to those by the Government and religious organisations. These include the Community Engagement Programme, which seeks to foster bonds across religious groups, and the Religious Rehabilitation Group, which counsels terror detainees and counters radical ideology.

And even as experts call for continued vigilance, Singapore remains a tough target for terrorists because of its tight border control and laws on firearms. "The American approach of allowing weaponry is like arming the terrorist; the European approach of opening the borders is tacit facilitation - you have no control over what is happening outside your borders," said Dr Rohan.

Singaporeans, too, appear to be vigilant, said Dr Norman Vasu, deputy head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security. Referring to "Exercise Times Square" in 2010, when police rigged smoking cars at locations around the island, Dr Vasu noted that 52 Singaporeans "instantly contacted the police".

There was criticism then that the public here had a lax attitude to terrorism, but Dr Vasu disagrees.

He said: "I, on the other hand, would argue that was 51 people more than we needed to alert the authorities to such an incident."

But that does not mean Singapore is not vulnerable. The Paris attacks prove that terrorists continue to exploit security vulnerabilities.

Experts pointed out that attackers in Paris picked community targets - including a stadium, concert theatre and restaurants - because the French increased security at hard targets, such as government installations, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year.

Any successful counter-terrorism strategy then would require society here to develop a resilience enabling it to take a successful attack in its stride, said Dr Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (Asia).

He pointed to how society had banded together and weathered the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis, citing this as proof that Singaporeans are socially resilient, adding: "It's the ability to cope with an attack and its consequences, for society to rebound quickly in its aftermath."

Suicide bombers in KL and Sabah: Leaked police memo

Police keeping track of all possible threats and increasing their patrols and intelligence surveillance
By Eunice Au, Malaysia Correspondent, The Straits Times, 20 Nov 2015

Malaysian police yesterday confirmed that a leaked internal police communique indicating the presence of suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah was authentic.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed this to online news portal Malaysiakini, saying the police memo was genuine and expressed regret over the leak.

The memo reportedly said that Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had 10 suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur and eight in Sabah. The note instructed police to increase patrols and intelligence surveillance.

Tan Sri Khalid said the police were keeping track of all possible threats and were taking measures to neutralise them.

"We will not allow such things (suicide bombings) to happen," Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.

Reports of Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers in Sabah are greatly exaggerated, state police chief Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman...
Posted by The Malay Mail Online on Saturday, November 21, 2015

According to the report, the circular, dated Nov 16, originated from the Sabah police headquarters and was based on intelligence information gleaned from a "meeting and planning" between three terrorist organisations, namely the Abu Sayyaf, ISIS and the Moro National Liberation Front.

The meeting in Sulu in the southern Philippines, which is said to have taken place on Sunday, was attended by 14 leaders from the three organisations and 50 members of Abu Sayyaf, who were armed with M16 rifles, pistols and bombs.

The leaders reached several resolutions during that meeting, including agreeing to recruit new members and deploying Abu Sayyaf and ISIS assets to Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, the circular stated.

"These suicide bombers underwent military training in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as prepared (sic) to receive orders from their leaders to launch attacks or bombings," the circular reportedly said, according to Malaysiakini.

Criminologist P. Sundramoorthy told The Straits Times that Malaysian police and other law enforcement agencies and intelligence services here have an excellent track record of neutralising threats from radical and extremist groups.

"The confirmation by the IGP (Inspector-General of Police) clearly demonstrates the fact that the Malaysian authorities are on track," Dr Sundramoorthy said.

He added that the public should not be unduly worried but, at the same time, should not take safety for granted.

On Tuesday, Abu Sayyaf militants reportedly beheaded Malaysian engineer Bernard Then Ted Fen, whom they had kidnapped along with restaurant owner Thien Nyuk Fun at a seafood restaurant in Sandakan, in Sabah, earlier this year.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak strongly condemned the act and urged the authorities to take action against the culprits and bring them to justice.

In the study of Muslims’ attitude towards IS, which the Pew Research Centre gleaned from its 2015 Global Attitudes...
Posted by The Malay Mail Online on Saturday, November 21, 2015

Singapore open to further ties to fight ISIS
DPM Teo: Republic will continue to back US-led coalition as it battles terror group
By Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 26 Nov 2015

Singapore is open to greater cooperation with its neighbours in South-east Asia, as well as Australia, in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

He said the country will also continue to back the United States-led coalition as it steps up strikes against the terror group after the recent attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. "We will help in whichever way we are able to," he said. "But our view has always been that it's not just the security approach, we have to take the approach of dealing with the ideology as well."

Mr Teo was speaking to the media in Jakarta yesterday as he wrapped up a three-day working visit to Indonesia, where he met President Joko Widodo and Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, among others.

"We already have a very strong relationship with Indonesia on counter-terrorism. We have good exchange of information between our law enforcement agencies as well as our intelligence agencies," he said.

"President Jokowi also expressed a strong interest in this (and) clearly ISIS is a new threat for the region... so we need to strengthen our capability in a number of areas again."

Besides sharing intelligence, Mr Teo said collaborations can include help in the rehabilitation and counter-radicalisation of extremists.

Security experts believe that Singapore may be targeted by ISIS because of its tough stand against the militant group, among other reasons. The country has also been a member of the coalition formed to combat the terror group.

Professor Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, was among experts who had previously called for greater regional cooperation to tackle ISIS.

He said the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance among the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain can be a model for Asean nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. "You need regular interactions at a working level between not just intelligence chiefs, but also staff to build... rapport and trust."

To prevent an ISIS attack in the region, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday called for greater intelligence sharing within Asean. Mr Teo said Singapore has "always been doing that" and remain open to exchanging information with the Australians.

Besides countering the scourge of terrorism, Mr Teo said he had talks with Indonesian leaders on how to strengthen the relationship between their militaries as well as explore ways resolve the transboundary haze crisis together.

He said Singapore's only objective is to work with Indonesia and other affected countries to solve the decades-old crisis. "It is also a subject which has become of international significance because of the importance of having to control carbon emissions."

Mr Teo added that Singapore looks forward to resuming a successful bilateral environmental project in Indonesia's Jambi Province which included ways to detect hot spots on a local level, sustainable agriculture and how to deal with and manage hot spots when they arise.

"We are willing and ready to continue to resume this programme whenever our Indonesian friends are ready," he said. "And we are also happy to continue to contribute our assets and resources, like aircraft for water bombing."

Mr Teo said he had a useful and productive visit to Jakarta, with both Singapore and Indonesia expressing confidence and interest in strengthening the relationship further. "Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be making a visit to Indonesia next year as part of our exchange of visits for annual retreats and there will be an opportunity to take the relationship further"

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