Singapore has said terror threat to the city state is higher than before and issued a warning against the rising security threat from the Islamist terror outfits. Singapore assesses that the risk to the Southeast Asian financial hub stems from the intent of radical Islamic operators to cement influence in the region by launching terror strikes.
Singapore's Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said parts of the region are fertile grounds for terror ideology propaganda by the Islamic State militants, in probable reference to the Jakarta attack earlier this year and increased threat perception in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia in recent months.
Speaking at a gathering of the Foreign Correspondents Association, the top Singaporean leader said the terror threat to Singapore is more severe than earlier this year. He said the Isis, or Daesh, who are facing increased pressure in their own turfs in the Middle East are trying to spread tentacles in the Southeast Asian region.
"Because as ISIS is suffering reverses in a physical way, in terms of losing territory and losing some battles, the ideology nevertheless has spread and sunk in the region amongst other places all over the world and that includes this region, and there are parts of it that are receptive and fertile to such ideas," Shanmugam said.
While Bangladesh and Philippines have faced down multiple terror strikes this year Malaysia foiled a series of terror plots and arrested scores in country-wide sweeps. Terror related detention have become common in Indonesia and Singapore as well, even as Isis sympathizers push for a toehold.
In most cases, the Isis sympathizers used Singapore as a safe haven to group and then pan out into Bangladesh where they planned to launch terror strikes inspired by Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's vision of the future caliphate.
Responding to questions Shanmugam said the alert level in Singapore, on a scale of one to 10, was "pretty high, particularly with the season we're in".
The minister said one of the ways to fight terror is by being prepared and educating the populace on the dangers. "... I think it is safe to say that trying to get our population to understand and take this, realise what we are up against, is very much a work in progress that has got a long way to go," he said, according to Channel News Asia.
Shanmugam hoped Singapore's inclusive government and society will act as a deterrent against the spread of terror ideology. He said Singapore doesn't have ethnic enclaves and the aim is to create a "common Singaporean identity" that was "above" race or religion.
In October, Singapore conducted the biggest ever anti-terror drill that enacted mass shootings, hostage-crises, armed assaults in public spaces and suicide bomb attacks. More than 3,200 officers from the SPF, SAF, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) took part in the security drill.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister said the terror threat faced by the island republic is higher than what it used to be four years ago.
In August, Indonesia arrested six suspected militants in Batam, who had allegedly tried to hit Singapore's Marina Bay with rockets fired from the island. Officials said they belonged to the KGR or Katibah Gonggong Rebus, or Cell GR and were apparently influenced by Muhammad Bahrun Naim, a Syria-based Indonesian militant.