Fifteen Bangladeshis, most of whom were working in the construction industry, have been repatriated from Singapore for social media postings in the wake of recent developments in France, the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs disclosed on Tuesday.
A Malaysian has also been repatriated who was found to be “radicalised” and harboured the intention to travel to Syria or Palestine to partake in armed violence.
The Bangladeshis, in response to the recent terror attacks and related incidents in France, had made social media postings “which incite violence or stoke communal unrest,” said a statement.
Of some 23 foreigners, 16 of them have been repatriated following the completion of ISD’s investigations into them.
Investigations into the remaining seven foreigners are still ongoing.
Since the re-publication of caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad by French magazine Charlie Hebdo on September 1, there has been a spate of terrorist attacks in France, including the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb, noted the statement.
There have also been attacks against French/Western interests elsewhere, such as in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Vienna, Austria.
In addition, a palpable anti-France climate has developed in several countries, as seen in large protests and calls for boycotts, as well as an uptick in terrorist rhetoric online.
In view of the deteriorating security situation, the Home Team has been on heightened alert since early September, and had also stepped up its security activities to pre-empt copycat attacks in Singapore.
As part of the heightened security posture, the Internal Security Department (ISD) has ramped up counter-terrorism investigations into suspicious activity, suspected radicalised individuals and/or persons whose conduct could threaten Singapore’s communal harmony.
As of November 24, investigations into 37 individuals have been initiated, some jointly with SPF.
These individuals had attracted security attention for suspected radical inclinations, or for making comments which incite violence, or stoke communal unrest.
The majority had inter alia, supported the beheading of Samuel Paty, and the subsequent attacks in France and elsewhere, or incited violence against France or French President Emmanuel Macron for the French government’s defence of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
A few had made derogatory remarks against Muslims.
While a handful had commented on the same discussion threads on social media, the majority of the cases are not connected to each other.
To date, there is no indication that any of these individuals had been planning any attacks or protests in Singapore.
Of the 37 individuals, 14 are Singaporeans and 23 are foreigners.
The 14 Singaporeans comprise 10 males and four females, and are aged between 19 and 62 years old.
Most of them had, in response to the recent terror attacks in France, made social media postings which incited violence or stoked communal unrest. Investigations into the 14 Singaporeans are ongoing. – UNB