Wednesday 24 February 2016

Singaporeans urged to be more security conscious: DPM Teo

Security agencies will work over the next few months to raise awareness of threats: DPM
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Feb 2016

Even though Singapore's security agencies will continue to watch over the Republic's key installations, they cannot be everywhere to protect the "soft targets" that terrorists are increasingly eyeing, like schools and shopping centres.

Singaporeans themselves must be more "security conscious" and aware of the threats to look out for, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. In the event of a terror attack, they should know how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

He said during a visit to a key installation yesterday that security agencies here will work together over the next few months to heighten Singaporeans' awareness of threats.

Their timely response can help contain or mitigate the consequences of an attack, reducing the damage and casualties, he told reporters yesterday, after visiting citizen soldiers deployed to patrol Jurong Island, the main location for the country's petrochemical industry.

"These are important critical moments, sometimes even before the security forces can arrive," added Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security.

With recent attacks in innocuous places such as outside a Jakarta cafe and inside a Parisian threatre, Mr Teo urged Singaporeans to "expect the unexpected" and be prepared.

"The realisation that such a threat exists is already quite widespread in Singapore. But we want people to understand the nature of the threat and how it can affect them even in their daily lives, when they least expect it," said Mr Teo.

He was accompanied yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung, army chief Melvyn Ong and senior army officers.

The operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) from the 811th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, are among troops who have patrolled the Republic's key installations round the clock since 2001. Other places include Changi Airport and Sembawang Wharves.

Mr Teo's comments come in the wake of fresh warnings about possible terror plots that may be launched in South-east Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. On Sunday, the Australian government issued a new travel advisory warning its citizens that terrorist attacks may take place in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Yesterday, the Saudi government alerted the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs about plans by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to hijack or bomb a Saudi Arabian airplane heading to and from Manila.

DPM Teo said Singapore, which is already operating at a reasonably high level of alert, is monitoring the situation and also gets intelligence reports and information about terror threats. Singapore stepped up security measures at its borders and military camps after last November's Paris attacks.

Adding that the nation takes such reports and information seriously, Mr Teo said: "There is a heightened threat not just in South-east Asia but around the world of terrorist attacks.

"That's why I think it's important that Singaporeans become more aware of what we can do if we are caught up in such a situation."

"There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks, not just in South East Asia, but around the world. That is why I...
Posted by The Singapore Army on Monday, February 22, 2016

Four Indonesians deported while 'travelling to join ISIS' via Singapore
4 suspects, including 15-year-old boy, held at Woodlands while entering S'pore from JB
By Arlina Arshad, Indonesia Correspondent In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 23 Feb 2016

The authorities in Singapore have deported four Indonesians believed to have been en route to the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

A source familiar with the case told The Straits Times yesterday that the four suspects, including a 15-year-old boy, were arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint as they were making their way into Singapore from Johor.

Identified as Muhammad Mufid Murtadho, Untung Sugema Mardjuk, Mukhlis Koifur Rofiq and Risno, they are linked to radical ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, said Indonesian national police chief Badrodin Haiti yesterday.

Police investigations seem to indicate that Aman might have ordered the Jan 14 attack in Jakarta from his jail cell in Nusakambangan prison, but it is unclear if the three men and boy deported from Singapore are involved in the hit on the capital.

The four were handed over to Indonesian police on Batam island on Sunday shortly after they were stopped at Woodlands.

Singapore authorities deport 4 Indonesians believed to have been en route to join ISIS. The suspects, one as young as 15, were arrested when they tried to enter Singapore via Woodlands Checkpoint last week.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, February 22, 2016

Barelang City police chief Helmy Santika told reporters in Batam that they were detained by Singapore immigration officers because of their suspicious travel pattern. He added that they had taken the ferry from Batam to Singapore several days ago, before heading to Johor. "After only three hours there, they returned to Singapore," said Commissioner Helmy.

They were questioned for five hours in Batam before being moved to Jakarta under heavy guard. Commissioner Helmy said investigations are under way to determine how the four were planning to get to Syria. "If there are links to the ISIS network, we will coordinate with Densus 88," he said, referring to Indonesia's elite police counter-terrorism unit, known as Detachment 88.

The four are from Jakarta, Bekasi in West Java and Purbalingga in Central Java - two of them are related. All had also gone on the mini-Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca three times, with one of them having been to Syria, where he remained for several weeks, added Commissioner Helmy.

The government plans to set aside 1.9 trillion rupiah (S$198 million) to beef up the ranks of Densus 88, following last month's siege on the capital. Indonesian police have arrested at least 25 suspects with links to the recent attack in Jakarta.

Indonesia, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population, is also set to pass new laws to give security agencies more powers to tackle terrorism. The final draft of the Bill was approved by President Joko Widodo and may be enacted by Parliament as early as April.

Indonesian deportees eye Batam, Bintan as 'transit points for ISIS aspirants'
By Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 27 Feb 2016

The four followers of radical ideologue Aman Abdurrahman deported from Singapore recently had planned to use Batam and Bintan islands as transit points for others heading to the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

This was due to the porous borders of the Riau Islands, which provide smugglers, as well as terrorists, multiple ingress and egress points, provincial police chief Sambudi Gusdian said yesterday.

Brigadier-General Sambudi was citing the latest investigations into the four Indonesians who were stopped at the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore on Feb 21 and subsequently handed over to the Indonesian police in Batam.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs had said earlier that the suspects were deported after it was established that they were en route to Syria to fight for ISIS. It is believed that they had also spent some time in Batam before they set out for the Middle East.

The four suspects - Untung Sugema Mardjuk, 49; Risno, 28; Mukhlis Koifur Rofiq, 23; and his brother Muhammad Mufid Murtadho, who is only 15 - are still being held for interrogation in Jakarta by Detachment 88, the police's counter-terrorism unit. The four are said to be from a pesantren, or Islamic boarding school, where Aman used to preach.

The 44-year-old cleric, now serving time in a maximum-security prison for setting up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2009, is believed to have ordered the Jan 14 terror attack in Jakarta that led to the death of four bystanders.

Brig-Gen Sambudi added that while the police have yet to detect any terror cells in the Riau Islands, there has been an increase in cross-agency patrols to monitor radical Islamic groups in the area that may potentially pose a risk.

The religious authority in Batam is doing the same, said Mr Usman Ahmad, chairman of the Indonesian Islamic Ulema Council in Batam. Mr Usman said he has not observed any terror-related activities among the "deviant" Islamic groups under the council's watch, but more is being done to engage them to ensure they do not become radicalised. "We routinely monitor groups in Batam today, but we do not know exactly where all of them are. But I think they are still in a latent stage," he said.

Batam Island has started to feature in the plans of ISIS aspirants from Indonesia in recent months. Last August, a Batam-based civil servant abandoned his post to join the terror group in Iraq.

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