Christchurch-like terror attack thwarted in Singapore
(AA): A major terror attack has been foiled in Singapore as a 16-year-boy planning to attack two mosques and kill worshipers was arrested, an official statement said.
The secondary school student of Indian ethnicity, whose name was not revealed, had prepared a plan to carry out attacks on March 15 this year — the second anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack, said an Internal Security Department (ISD) statement.
On March 15, 2019, Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, killed 51 Muslims preparing for Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) said the boy, who is a Protestant Christian, was “influenced by” Tarrant and was preparing to attack Assyafaah and Yusof Ishak mosques.
He was arrested by the ISD authorities on Nov. 26 last year and was handed a detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on Dec. 23.
The boy was planning to live stream of his possible acts, copying the terror act committed by Tarrant in New Zealand.
The ISD said the boy is the first person in Singapore to be detained after being inspired by far-right extremist ideology. He is the youngest person to be detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities in the city-state.
The boy started to plan a Christchurch-like terror attack in Singapore after the last year’s knife attack in France in which a teacher was killed, which led to condemnations and also Islamophobic attacks.
According to Today Online news website, he also planned to steal his father’s credit card to rent an electric car for the possible attack and also bought a vest with right-wing extremist symbols.
The boy researched legal means of gaining access to firearms but abandoned the idea given the difficulty of getting it.
He also wanted to buy a rifle but he did not follow through with the purchase.
Owing to concerns surrounding logistics and his own safety, he settled on a machete he found for sale on an online marketplace.
The boy is undergoing a rehabilitation process that will involve religious, psychological, and social counselling.
Because of his young age, he has been granted family visits and his mother was present during the questioning by authorities.
Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam termed the development “worrying.”
“It’s also worrying that we are picking up young people,” said Shanmugam, who ruled out charging the boy “because of his young age.”
He was only in the process of planning his attack and had yet to take action, he added.
“It’s the first case we have had of right-wing extremists targeting Muslims.
“Violent impulses, I’ve said this many times, is not restricted to any particular racial group or religious group. It can occur among anyone. It’s really a question of being exposed to hate speech and then being influenced by it,” the minister said.
Since 2015, Singaporean authorities have used the ISA against seven people under 20 years, including this boy.
[Photo: Singapore By Basile Morin/Creative Commons]
By Riyaz ul Khaliq