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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two men detained for planning acts of terror

Jan 25, 2008
Two men detained for planning acts of terror
Another has been placed under a restriction order; all three were 'self-radicalised'
By Zakir Hussain
TWO men have been detained under the Internal Security Act for planning acts of terror after being influenced by radical ideas in print, on video and online.
They had travelled abroad, one made bombs, and both wanted to fight in such places as Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya and die as martyrs.

A third man involved in their activities was last month placed under a restriction order (RO), which allows him to stay home but limits his activities outside.

All three are aged 26.

In making the announcement yesterday, the Home Affairs Ministry also said it was releasing six men: five Jemaah Islamiah (JI) detainees and a man who helped the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Philippine militant group.

Even as terror groups such as the JI have been crippled, the latest arrests mark a new threat, which the Government last year described as a 'troubling new phenomenon' of self-radicalised individuals who imbibe extreme ideology independent of direct recruitment by established terror groups.

Security analysts say this trend of 'DIY (do-it-yourself) terrorists' is set to grow as such ideas multiply on the Internet on as many as 6,000 websites.

The first new detainee is Muhammad Zamri Abdullah, who had gone abroad to try to join a 'mujahidin network', whose aim was to wage armed jihad - a struggle he believed was religiously justified.

Since 2003, he had also spread his radical ideas and succeeded in influencing two: Maksham Mohd Shah, who, like him, was detained last month, and Mohammad Taufik Andjah Asmara, who was put under an RO last month.

The ministry gave no further details of the trio.

The arrests come less than a year after 'self-radicalised' former law lecturer Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader was detained after making plans to join the Taleban.

In its statement, the ministry traced the latest detainees' militant activities to 2006, as they prepared for 'armed jihad'.

It started with Zamri falsely claiming in early 2006 that he was the local representative of a foreign radical group.

He made Maksham and Taufik members by taking the bai'ah, or oath of allegiance, to him, and collected money from them to donate to another militant foreign group.

In mid-2006, his interest in militant rhetoric online led him to befriend a foreigner in the JI's Al-Ghuraba cell .In November that year, Zamri and Maksham went abroad to meet the foreigner.

They were planning to take the bai'ah to leaders of radical groups in that country to join 'mujahidin networks'.

Zamri believed doing so would let them get training and eventually travel overseas to wage armed jihad in places such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya.

One leader they wanted to meet was a known leader of a terrorist group.

But both detainees could not get an appointment with the foreign leaders.

The ministry also said Maksham, apart from developing radical ideas, made improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Inspired by news footage showing Molotov cocktails used in attacks, he experimented with sparklers to make the bombs.

Later, to avoid detection here, he went overseas to source materials commonly used to make IEDs, such as ball bearings and fertilisers.

He also initiated overseas camping trips after watching terrorist training videos.

Both Maksham and Zamri used the trips 'to toughen themselves mentally and physically so that they would be prepared to undertake armed jihad', the ministry said.

As for Taufik, Maksham introduced him to Zamri in 2003. Like the duo, he became 'self-radicalised'.

But the ministry said its investigations showed that he had begun to distance himself from them and their activities.

Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) president Alami Musa last night said the three were 'clearly misguided', and their plans could have caused the loss of innocent lives and destabilised society.

'This is not the true teaching of Islam or any civilisation,' he said.

zakirh@sph.com.sg

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