I shall quote a part of the essay i submitted for my Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship application.
With regard to domestic security, from Jan 2002 to Mar 2013, 64 people were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related offences, of them, a significant number are self-radicalised by radical ideologies online, especially religious extremism, which ‘justifies’ the use of militant jihad. One of them, Abdul Basheer, is a Singaporean law graduate who tried to pursue militant jihad in Afghanistan. The presence of radical ideologies influencing Singaporeans directly threatens our society and since it is hard to detect, the losses would be immense. While most reject such ideologies, one radical is one too many. Yet many are unaware of such news and its severity.
While I had recognised the threat of radical ideologies spreading online, it had never occurred to me that the spread would be so quick and uncontrollable. It has already been known that there are several Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians that have already left for Syria to support the ISIS. Even the Singapore Government acknowledges that the ISIS threat to us, is even greater than that of the Jemaah Islamiyah. But why? Why is that we are so vulnerable to the threat of the ISIS / extreme Islam in general? (P.S. : I apologise if there are any people that I have offended using the word ‘Islam’, even though I qualified it as extreme.)
- Firstly, Singapore is a staunch supporter of the United States, Britain as well as Israel. The United States has always been seen as the ‘Great Satan’ in the eyes of many Arabs especially after the US military action in Iraq in 1990-91. They perceive that US action has made the Arab world a more dangerous place and that ‘foreigners should not meddle in Arab affairs’.Not just that, the United States has always supported Israel, a common enemy of many Arab and Muslim states. For example, countries like Malaysia, Bahrian, Afghanistan, Brunei, Sudan, Syria, UAE and Indonesia do not accept Israeli passports. By supporting Israel so strongly, especially in terms of military aid when Israel was fighting many other Arab states in the region (Egypt for example), has enraged Muslims worldwide. Let us also remember the fact that Israel was in fact a state forcibly created by the United Nations (led by the United States and Britain) after World War 2.
Therefore, with such connections to the ‘Great Satan‘ and Britain, it is not impossible for the ISIS to target Singapore as a means to warn other countries in the world that they should not support the United States or Britain in their plans to exterminate the ISIS. The fact that Singapore always prides itself as one of the world’s safest country seem to only tempt possible terrorist groups to strike us down.
- Next, in terms of geography, Singapore is an anomaly in the region. Both of our gigantic neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia openly reject Israel, while Singapore staunchly supports Israel, especially since Israel has helped Singapore start up its military in the first place. Should ISIS or any other radical Islamist groups attempt to attack us, it seems not too difficult. Let us also recall that there have been Malaysians and Indonesians who have went to support ISIS in Syria.
- Lastly, there exists a possibility for attacks on us – by residents in Singapore, Singaporeans or not. Given the fact that there have been several self-radicalised Singaporeans, it is only likely that they can be self-radicalised to inflict harm on us.
Given our vulnerability, it seems that more must be done to protect our loved ones, and our country.