- The Straits Times
The three Indonesian women detained in Singapore for supporting terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were not new to the country, having worked in the city state as domestic helpers for between six and 13 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed on Monday (Sept 23).
All three were issued with Orders of Detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in September, and investigations into their alleged terrorism financing activities are still ongoing, MHA said.
According to MHA, all three women were radicalised in 2018 after they viewed online materials related to ISIS and became convinced that the group was fighting for Islam and that its use of violence against “infidels” was justified.
According to details revealed on Monday, the trio met during the radicalisation process. They were drawn to violent visuals disseminated on multiple pro-ISIS social media chat groups and channels. These included visuals of ISIS’ bomb attacks and beheading videos, as well as recycled propaganda on ISIS’ past victories in the battlefield.
The women were also influenced by the online sermons of Indonesian radical preachers such as Aman Abdurrahman and Usman Haidar bin Seff, MHA said.
While two of the women – 33-year-old Anindia Afiyantari (Anindia), 36-year-old Retno Hernayani (Retno) – first met at a social gathering during their off-days, 31-year-old Turmini, connected with them via social media.
“Over time, they developed a network of pro-militant foreign online contacts, including ‘online boyfriends’, who shared their pro-ISIS ideology,” MHA said.
All three also became strong supporters of the Indonesia-based ISIS-affiliated terrorist group, Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD).
Women planned to go to Syria, one was also prepared to be a suicide bomber
According to MHA, investigations revealed that Anindia and Retno both harboured the intention to travel to Syria to join ISIS. They were also encouraged to migrate to the southern Philippines, Afghanistan or Africa to join pro-ISIS groups there.
While Anindia was prepared to become a suicide bomber, Retno aspired to live amongst ISIS fighters in Syria. She also believed that Muslims were duty-bound to travel to other conflict zones (apart from Syria), such as Palestine and Kashmir, to fight against “the enemies of Islam”, MHA said.
The three women are now believed to have actively galvanised support online for ISIS via several social media accounts. They also donated funds to overseas-based entities for terrorism-related purposes, such as to support the activities of ISIS and JAD. In particular, Turmini believed that her donations would earn her a place in paradise.
Fourth woman arrested and repatriated
A fourth Indonesian domestic worker was also arrested as a result of the investigation, MHA said.
Although she was not found to be radicalised, she was aware of the others’ radicalisation, but did not report them to the authorities.
MHA said the woman has since been repatriated to Indonesia.
The ministry warned in its statement that Singapore faces a “persistent terrorism threat, fuelled by the virulent propaganda of terrorist groups like ISIS”. “The fact that all three individuals in the present case were radicalised in 2018, at a time when ISIS’s physical territory was already significantly diminished, highlights the enduring appeal of ISIS’s violent ideology,” it added.
Including the three women, there have been 19 radicalised foreign domestic workers detected in Singapore since 2015. Although none of the earlier 16 people had plans to carry out terror acts in Singapore, their radicalisation and association with terrorists overseas rendered them a security threat and they were repatriated to their home countries.
MHA said that family members, friends, colleagues and employers are “best placed to notice possible signs of radicalisation”.
Behaviours to watch out for include avid consumption of radical materials; propagating and re-posting terrorism-related images, videos and posts on social media; expressing support for terrorist entities and/or causes; drastic changes in appearance, and/or behaviour; espousing an “us versus them” thinking; and stating the intention to commit terrorist violence.
MHA also warned that radicalisation can happen very quickly. “Timely reporting allows the authorities to investigate and intervene to stem the radicalisation, before an individual harms or kills someone. In addition, such reporting can save these individuals,” it added.
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