Be concerned but no need to be 'panicky' over trend of self-radicalised youth in Singapore, say experts, community groups

Published date02 February 2023
Publication titleMalay Mail Online

The numbers may look troubling, but terrorism research experts and leaders of community and youth groups were divided on whether the cases of self-radicalisation among the young in Singapore were a cause for concern.

Since 2015, nine people under the age of 21 have been detained or have been served Restriction Orders under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Individuals on Restriction Order cannot travel out of Singapore, or change addresses or jobs, without approval. They also cannot access the internet or social media, among other conditions.

On Wednesday (Feb 1), Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the number of young detainees under the ISA in recent years is 'a trend that is concerning' and that both the Government and community must work together to prevent radicalisation.

Some of the observers who spoke to TODAY said that the nine cases were isolated ones and did not necessarily point to a growing trend.

For the others who expressed concern, they said that online content would continue to exert much influence on impressionable youth.

During the times when young people are seeking guidance or meaning in their lives, they may come across terrorism propaganda online easily and that could lead to radicalisation.

The best way to tackle this is to address the concerns of the young more earnestly and engage them in a manner that will gain their trust, so that they do not have to turn elsewhere for support, they added.

What the numbers show

On Wednesday, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said that it has detained a self-radicalised, 18-year-old post-secondary student last December for supporting the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Muhammad Irfan Danyal Mohamad Nor became the ninth youth aged 20 and below to be dealt with under the Act in the last eight years from 2015.

In comparison, there were just three young persons in the 13 years from 2002 to 2014, terrorism researcher Ahmad Saiful Rijal Hassan said in a 2021 commentary for Malay news channel Berita Mediacorp. He is an associate research fellow with the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

What observers say

Ms Shahrany Hassan, founder of The Whitehatters, a non-government organisation that facilitates dialogue, was disturbed by how young people 'within the impressionable age range' are being radicalised online.

Propaganda materials can spread with ease and speed in the online space...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT