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ISA detainee released, then re-arrested

SINGAPORE — Nearly three years after his release from detention for terrorism-related activities, former lawyer and polytechnic law lecturer Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader has been re-detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) — the first person to be re-detained after he was thought to have been successfully rehabilitated.

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SINGAPORE — Nearly three years after his release from detention for terrorism-related activities, former lawyer and polytechnic law lecturer Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader has been re-detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) — the first person to be re-detained after he was thought to have been successfully rehabilitated.

He was re-arrested in September and issued with an Order of Detention the following month for reviving interest in undertaking militant jihad abroad, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday in Parliament. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that Abdul Basheer was planning to take up arms against foreign military presence in places that included Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, and had enquired on ways he could leave Singapore — illegally, if necessary — to pursue his jihad plans.

Since 2002, 64 people have been detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities. More than two-thirds — including Abdul Basheer, who made headlines in 2007 when he became the first self-radicalised person to be detained under the ISA — had been released after they were assessed to have been rehabilitated and to not pose a security threat warranting preventive detention.

Previously detained from February 2007 to February 2010, Abdul Basheer was then released on Suspension Direction — a suspension of one’s detention, with conditions barring him from leaving the country without prior written approval and associating with militant or terrorist groups or individuals. In February 2011, he was placed on Restriction Order.

The MHA said Abdul Basheer had initially made progress in reintegrating into society. But while under Restriction Order supervision, he was detected to have “reverted to his earlier interest of undertaking militant jihad abroad”.

Factors like the surfing of radical websites and political events in the Middle East could have contributed to his relapse, said the MHA.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Religious Rehabilitation Group member Mohamed Ali noted that “those who have undergone counselling can still be drawn to terrorist propaganda and sucked down the path of radicalism if they are not careful”.

He said: “It does not matter whether they had been self-radicalised or were part of a terrorist group previously. This underscores the importance of rehabilitation. We must push on in our efforts to counsel and rehabilitate them... Detainees who have been released must also not let their own guard down and be re-influenced.”

Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister, said Singapore is concerned by terrorist elements’ growing use of social media to spread propaganda and recruit new radicals. “With Singapore’s high Internet penetration, especially among youths, we need to inoculate our young from coming under the influence of radical ideology,” he said.

It is not easy to de-radicalise someone who has imbibed terrorist ideology and Abdul Basheer is a “timely reminder that Singapore must continue to invest efforts in the rehabilitation of our terrorist detainees”, he added.

The terrorist threat remains persistent globally and regionally, Mr Teo said. Al Qaeda and its affiliates remain active and capitalise on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa to further their objectives. Closer to home, Jemaah Islamiyah and other groups continue to recruit operatives and carry out attacks in neighbouring countries.

The MHA said that in recent months, three individuals have been released from ISA detention — Ishak Mohamed Noohu (placed on Restriction Order on Nov 1), Maksham Mohd Shah (released on Suspension Direction on Dec 5) and Mohamed Hussain Saynudin (placed on Restriction Order on Feb 21). Ishak and Hussain were members of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network detained in 2006 and 2007, and Maksham was a self-radicalised person detained in December 2007.

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