Singapore

Overview:  Singapore continued to identify counterterrorism as the nation’s top security policy priority and has a comprehensive CT strategy based on global and regional trends.  The strategy included vigilant security measures, regional and international law enforcement cooperation, efforts to counter radicalization to violence, and a campaign to prepare the populace for possible attacks.  Singapore was a committed, active, and effective CT partner in 2022.  CT remained a pillar of the security relationship between Singaporean and U.S. law enforcement and security services.  Cooperation on CT and information sharing continued throughout the year.  Singapore’s domestic CT apparatus and its ability to detect, deter, and disrupt threats remained effective.  The government’s “Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report 2022” identified global terrorist networks and domestically self-radicalized individuals influenced by online material as the prime terrorism threats.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no reported terrorist incidents in Singapore in 2022.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Singapore uses its Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest and detain suspected terrorists.  The ISA authorizes the Ministry of Home Affairs, with the consent of the president, to order arrests and detentions without a warrant, a trial, or full judicial due process, if it is determined that individuals pose a threat to national security.  In February, Singapore amended legislation to criminalize the use of aircrafts as weapons, the use of nuclear and biochemical weapons on planes, and cyberattacks on air navigation facilities.

Singapore detained at least four individuals under the ISA for terrorism-related activities in 2022.  Three suspects had allegedly planned to travel overseas to partake in armed violence or to stage attacks in Singapore.  One case involved a senior member of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiah network who was deported to Singapore upon completion of a prison sentence overseas.  The Government of Singapore (GoS) released three citizens who were previously detained under the ISA after assessing their rehabilitation progress and determining the individuals no longer posed a security threat that required preventive detention.  The GoS allowed restriction orders against three individuals to lapse.

Security forces continued to be on heightened alert and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) enhanced border security measures and patrols.  Singapore’s law enforcement and security services were capable of proactively detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism, including through interagency cooperation, regular exercises, and information sharing.  In May, SPF and the Singapore Armed Forces conducted a countrywide counterterrorism exercise focused on soft targets.

Singapore maintained a “not if, but when” stance regarding the likelihood of terrorist attacks within the country.  The government’s SGSecure public awareness campaign, which aimed to enhance emergency preparedness and community resilience, used online programs and training sessions during the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Under SGSecure, different government agencies also reached out to various segments of the community — such as schools, workplaces, and religious organizations — to heighten awareness of terrorism and coordinate on possible responses.

To detect possible terrorist movements by air into or transiting through the country, Singapore’s primary border security agency, ICA, implemented Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data collection in 2019.  ICA enhanced its border capabilities by operationalizing a multi-modal biometrics clearance concept to detect fraudulent travel documents.  In May, Singapore denied entry by sea to an Indonesian preacher and his six travel companions over his “extremist” and segregationist teachings.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Singapore is a member of FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.  Its FIU, the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office, is a member of the Egmont Group.

In July, Singapore assumed a two-year term as FATF president.  In October, Singapore published a national strategy to counter terrorist financing.  This strategy, based on findings from an assessment of terrorist financing risks from 2020, focuses on a coordinated and comprehensive risk identification, a strong legal and sanctions framework, a robust regulatory regime, decisive law enforcement actions, and international partnerships and cooperation.  Also in 2022, Singapore convicted and sentenced a Bangladeshi man under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act to more than two years in prison for financially supporting ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government encourages interreligious and interethnic dialogue through Racial and Religious Harmony Circles, the interagency Aftercare Group, and the local community fora that bring leaders from Singapore’s religious and ethnic communities together to discuss issues of concern and build trust.  The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), the Islamic authority in charge of Muslim affairs, maintains a social media presence and holds outreach and educational events to counter terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.  MUIS manages the Asatizah Recognition Scheme that vets Islamic Religious Council teachers and scholars in Singapore.

The International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research and the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) both counter violent extremism.  The RRG, a volunteer organization made up of religious scholars and teachers, counseled detainees held under the ISA through a comprehensive program involving religious and psychological counseling.  RRG’s goal is to prevent radicalization to violence in the first place and deradicalize individuals before their successful reintegration into society.  RRG also operates a resource and counseling center for the Muslim community and held virtual community events and engagement sessions during the pandemic, including to raise awareness about the threats of online radicalization to violence.  The group resumed in-person events in 2022.  RRG and the Interagency Aftercare Group also conduct counter-ideology outreach activities for students and youths.  In February the government launched the Logistical Transport Industry Safety and Security Watch Group together with the Singapore Transport Association to share information to counter threats of terrorism and crime involving vehicles.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Singapore is an active participant in CT cooperation efforts in ASEAN and APEC.  The nation is a strong advocate for the ASEAN “Our Eyes” regional initiative, which strives for ministerial-level CT information sharing.  Singapore participated in the Third Subregional Meeting on Counterterrorism in December and the “No Money for Terror” Ministerial Conference on counterterrorism financing in India.  Singapore also participated in the Aqaba Process Meeting in Jordan in September that focused on enhancing global coordination and cooperation to counter terrorism and in INTERPOL’s Project Pacific working group to discuss counterterrorism issues in November.  Singapore founded and hosts the Counterterrorism Information Facility (CTIF), a Singapore-led initiative to increase information sharing between military and law enforcement agencies with representatives from nine countries.  In operation since January 2021, the United States supports the CTIF by maintaining a U.S. law enforcement and military official at the facility to contribute to CT information sharing.

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