Singapore says deported men planned Jihad in Bangladesh

Alam Khurshed, 27; Alam Mahabub, 34; Ali Abdul, 40. (Second row) Ali Md Ashraf, 33; Alim Abdul, 32; Aminur, 31. (Third row) Golam Jilani Abdur Rouf, 27; Haque Md Mofazzal, 29; Hasan Md Mahmudul, 30. Photo: Singapore’s home affairs ministry via The Straits Times

Alam Khurshed, 27; Alam Mahabub, 34; Ali Abdul, 40. (Second row) Ali Md Ashraf, 33; Alim Abdul, 32; Aminur, 31. (Third row) Golam Jilani Abdur Rouf, 27; Haque Md Mofazzal, 29; Hasan Md Mahmudul, 30. Photo: Singapore’s home affairs ministry via The Straits Times

The repatriated 26 Bangladesh nationals, after being arrested over terror plans in Singapore, conspired to foment an armed movement against the government in their own country, according to Singapore authorities.

The country’s ministry of home affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the arrested Bangladeshi nationals were members of a close-knit religious study group which followed the teachings of radical figures, including American and Yemeni Islamic lecturer Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike on Yemen in 2011.

The ministry said that altogether 27 Bangladeshis had been arrested but the remaining man was not a member of the group, but was discovered to have been undergoing radicalisation.

Jihadi-related materials were found in his possession as in that of the others, said the statement.

The Bangladesh nationals, employed in the construction industry in the island city-state, were arrested between Nov 16 and Dec 1 last year.

All of them had their work passes cancelled, and 26 of them were sent to back to Bangladesh in the third week of December last year.

The Singapore home affairs ministry said that the Bangladesh authorities had been informed of the circumstances behind their repatriation.

Statement by Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs.

Statement by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

The remaining Bangladeshi is serving a jail term after being convicted of leaving the country through what the ministry described as “illegal and clandestine means” after his fellow group members were arrested.  He will be sent back after serving the sentence.

On Dec 21, the Bangladesh police detained the 26 repatriated Bangladeshis from a house at Dhaka’s Uttara.

Charges under the Anti Terrorism Act were pressed against 14 of them and police produced them before a Dhaka court on Dec 27.

Police had then sought to have them on remand to question them, but until Wednesday, when the Singapore authorities released the statement, it was not clear why they had been sent back to Bangladesh.

“The 14 are in jail now after they were questioned. We are continuing our investigations,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Maruf Hossain Sardar told bdnews24.com.

No significant information was found about the remaining 12, said the police deputy commissioner. He added, though, that they were under surveillance.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

The case filed by police against the 14 notes that they used to get together at a mosque in Singapore once a week, where they discussed operating militant activities in Bangladesh.

They preached extremism and produced video clips to encourage other Bangladeshis to join them, according to police.

The Singapore authorities said in their statement that the men harboured grievances against the Bangladesh government over its actions against Islamic groups, which encouraged them to return Bangladesh to wage an armed jihad.

“They had also sent monetary donations to entities believed to be linked to extremist groups in Bangladesh,” reads the statement by Singapore’s home ministry.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

It also said that the Bangladesh nationals were careful to avoid detection by the authorities, sharing jihadi-related materials discreetly and holding weekly gatherings to discuss armed conflicts.

A number of members admitted that they believed they should participate in and wage armed jihad on behalf of their religion. Several contemplated travelling to the Middle East to take part in the ongoing conflict, the statement said.

Some of them were supportive of terrorist groups that killed Shias, who in their view were ‘deviant’, the statement added.

The Singapore authorities said that a ‘significant amount’ of materials, such as books and videos containing footage of children undergoing training in what appeared to be terrorist military camps, had been recovered from the men.

They also found a document with graphic images and instruction details on how to conduct “silent killings” by using different methods and weapons.

The Singapore local media ran the video and the silent killings manual on Wednesday.

But the deported Bangladeshis were not planning any attacks in Singapore, said the country’s home ministry.

The statement said that investigations revealed several of them considered carrying out armed attacks overseas.

Singapore minister cautions against discrimination

Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s Minister-in-charge for Muslim Affairs, has meanwhile cautioned citizens on the need for more vigilance against radical and ideologies, or any suspicious activities, reports Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia.

“I hope we will remain united and not resort to discriminating against foreign workers here,” the report quoted Ibrahim as saying. “The actions of a few cannot determine how we treat others who have worked so hard to build our homes, schools and hospitals.”

Meanwhile, the Migrant Workers’ Centre, a non-government organization for foreign workers in Singapore, has also cautioned against discrimination.

“The MWC hopes that this incident will not tarnish the reputation of hardworking and law-abiding migrant workers in Singapore, regardless of their nationality or religion,” it said in a Facebook post.

The Mufti of Singapore, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, spoke out against extremism following news of the arrests.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

Still photo taken from video found on arrested Bangladesh nationals by Singapore authorities.

“They contradict the fundamental Islamic teaching of protecting the sanctity of human life and preserving peace and harmony at all times,” Channel NewsAsia quoted him as saying.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has called on the Muslim community to remain vigilant and resist radicalism, the report said.

Singapore’s home affairs ministry said in its statement that it took a ‘very serious view’ of any form of support for terrorism.

It said that foreigners were guests and they should not use the country as a base to import domestic political agenda.

“In the same way, foreign religious speakers who propagate divisive doctrines which could lead to mistrust, enmity and hatred among local religious groups and undermine Singapore’s social cohesion are not welcome and will not be allowed to operate in Singapore,” the statement read.

Source: Bd news24

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