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Bangladeshi migrant worker held in Singapore over terrorism-related activities

  • Published at 12:58 am November 25th, 2020
Ahmed Faysal actively shared material promoting armed violence on social media, and bought foldable knives to use for attacks in Bangladesh Photos: MHA

Faysal had intended to take knives back to Bangladesh to carry out attacks against Hindu police officers, says Singaporean Home Affairs and Law Minister

A Bangladeshi construction worker was arrested on November 2 in Singapore and charged under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being involved in terrorism-related activities, reports The Straits Times.

The arrestee is Ahmed Faysal, 26, who hailed from an eastern district in Bangladesh and completed his secondary education from a village madrasa.

The Internal Security Department’s preliminary investigations found that he had been radicalized and had intended to carry out acts of armed violence in support of his religion, the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday.

However, MHA was convinced based on investigations that Faysal did not intend to carry out any acts of violence in Singapore.

Singaporean Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam disclosed the matter at a Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) event on Tuesday.

Based on the confession, he said that Faysal had intended to carry out knife attacks against Hindu police officers in Bangladesh.

In February 2017, he flew to Singapore as a migrant worker and got a job at a building products company. His radicalization reportedly began in 2018 when he started reading pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) materials online, the ministry said.

Also Read - Singapore deports Bangladeshis over anti-France posts

Fluent in English and using social media, he actively disseminated pro-ISIS propaganda, in a mixture of English and Bangla, that showcased the oppression of Muslims in foreign lands and promoted armed violence.

He would often translate some of the material he found online from English to Bangla, and repost it on his social media accounts – some of which he created under fictitious names to evade detection – to encourage other Bangladeshi Muslims to take up arms, said The Straits Times quoting MHA.

He even went a step further and bought foldable knives to carry out attacks back home on Hindu police officers which he later confessed to the authorities after being caught.

The home affairs and law minister added that the Commercial Affairs Department is also investigating Faysal for possible terrorism financing offences.

The MHA said Faysal is not linked to the string of terrorist attacks that took place in France last month, when a school teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded in Paris and three others in Nice were knifed to death, one of whom was beheaded as well.

'Want to travel to Syria, fight alongside IS'

However, he was drawn to IS' goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Syria and wanted to travel there to fight alongside the group against the Syrian government. He believed he would be a martyr if he died while doing so, MHA added.

In the middle of last year, he shifted his allegiance to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), another militant group fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Syria, it said.

MHA said: "He donated funds to a Syria-based organisation on the understanding that his donations would benefit the HTS' cause in Syria."

The ministry further said Faysal had expressed support for other terrorist groups, including the Al-Qaeda and Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.

'Armed Jihad'

It noted that he believed Muslims have a duty to engage in armed jihad, to help fellow Muslims who are oppressed.

Apart from Syria, he was also willing to travel to Kashmir to fight against the perceived enemies of Islam, and prepared himself for battle by watching firearms-related videos online, the ministry further added.

Also Read - Bangladesh heats up with protests against Macron

However, he had maintained a rather different public image.

An MHA spokesman said Faysal lived in a dormitory and was not known to have interacted much with his dorm mates.

“Beyond his social media activities, there is no information that Faysal had tried to influence his colleagues, dormitory mates or anyone else in Singapore with his radical views,” the spokesman said. “It appears that none of them were aware of Faysal’s radicalization.”

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