Singapore Arrests Armed Forces Member for Plot to Attack Synagogue

Singapore has arrested a former member of the armed forces for hatching a plot to kill jews by attacking two synagogues in the city. The former member of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), 20, also wanted to travel all the way to Gaza and join the Hamas in fighting Israel, local media reported citing Singapore officials.

The man, identified as Amirull Ali, had planned a knife attack on Rochor synagogue on two occasions, the authorities said. He has been detained under the Internal Security Act and stripped of his military role. Ali also hatched a plot to attack the Maghain Aboth Synagogue on Waterloo Street as well.

In a landmark statement, Singapore's Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said it was the first time a Singaporean was arrested in a plot to join the Palestinian cause and plan an attack on Israel and Jews. "It's perfectly okay to support the Palestinian cause, but it's not okay to go around killing people," the minister said.

Singapore Police Force
Singapore Police Force Reuters

Plan to Join Military Wing of Hamas

The Internal Security Department (ISD) said Ali had planned a lone0wolf attack. "If Amirull had remained undetected, he might have eventually carried out his attack plans in Singapore or travelled abroad to undertake armed violence," the department said, according to Today Online.

The investigators said Ali's radicalization was traced to 2014 when he watched videos showing Israeli fighter jets bombing Palestinian citizens. He then read up on the resistance activities of the military wing of the Islamist movement Hamas.

Even as he plotted attacks on Singapore's synagogues, he also got in touch with mentors overseas and expressed the desire to join the military wing of Hamas. The officials said Ali researched on the routes to Gaza between 2018 and 2020. He planned to travel to Gaza by reaching Egypt first.

Singapore arrests and deports 4 indonesian militants travelling to Syria
Indonesian anti-terror police lead away two of six men arrested this week for their suspected involvement in last month's militant attack in Jakarta, at police headquarters in Malang, East Java, Indonesia February 21, 2016

In 2019, after watching a program on the Jewish community in Singapore, he planned the synagogue attack. "(Amirull) was enraged that Jews were thriving peacefully in Singapore, while Palestinians were suffering overseas. Amirull then decided that he would conduct an attack against Jews at the synagogue," the ISD statement said.

Planned Lone-Wolf Attack

His intention to kill the Jewish men was based on the assumption that they will have completed national military duties in Israel, thus participating in 'atrocities' against the Palestinian Muslims.

His preparations for the attack included making a replica of an AK-47 rifle, practising to use a Smith & Wesson knife and studying the human vascular system to determine where to stab his targets. Reconnaissance trips to the synagogue were part of the preparations as well.

He also planned to use the Arabic scarf known as a keffiyeh, widely used by Palestinians, during the attack. The attack would be followed by the posting of an online manifesto arguing the cause. "The aim of the manifesto was to incite all oppressed people to mount attacks against tyrannical regimes using 'any means necessary', including 'assassinat(ion)' and 'vigilante justice'," ISD said.

He acted alone all the time, investigators emphasized. "There was no sign of him trying to influence anyone with his radical outlook or involve others in his attack plans."

Ali's plans and preparations were foiled when Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) soundd an alert about him to the ISD, suggesting the possibility of his radicalization.

Terror Threat in Singapore

Singapore has been on high alert for several years now, after the rise of Isis in the Middle East attracted recruits from a host of Southeast Asian countries. While hundreds of radicalized youth from countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh perished in the wars in Iraq and Syria, hundreds returned to their home countries after the downfall of the Isis.

These people then formed sleeper cells in their respective countries and started infiltrating into other pats of the region. Terror-related detention became common in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia ever since the Isis sympathizers started infiltrating into the countries in the region and even establishing sleeping cells. In Singapore these modules were set up among the immigrant work forces. In the broader region, Bangladesh, Philippines and Indonesia have faced multiple terror strikes over the years.