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Singapore-born Australian detained under ISA in 2016 back in court for flouting Passports Act

SINGAPORE — A Singapore-born Australian detained here since 2016 for terrorism-related activities was hauled to court on Thursday (Oct 8) for lying about his Australian citizenship when applying for a Singapore passport.

A photo Zulfikar Shariff posted on his Facebook page of himself with his children in front of a flag used by jihadi terror groups.

A photo Zulfikar Shariff posted on his Facebook page of himself with his children in front of a flag used by jihadi terror groups.

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  • Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff lied that he had not acquired the citizenship of another country when applying for a Singapore passport
  • He has been detained for terrorism-related activities under Singapore’s Internal Security Act since July 1, 2016
  • He fled to Australia in 2002, and later took up citizenship there and ceased to be a Singapore citizen as of August 26 this year

 

SINGAPORE — A Singapore-born Australian detained here since 2016 for terrorism-related activities was hauled to court on Thursday (Oct 8) for lying about his Australian citizenship when applying for a Singapore passport. 

Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, 49, has been charged for flouting the Passports Act by making a false statement in an online application for a Singapore passport on Dec 11, 2013.

According to Zulfikar’s charge sheet, he declared that he had not acquired the citizenship of another country at the time of the application even though he knew this was not true.

In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that at the time of Zulfikar’s arrest in 2016, he held dual citizenship for Singapore and Australia.

In 2002, he fled Singapore to Australia with his family while under investigation for criminal defamation but kept up his pursuit of radical ideology.

He became an Australian citizen thereafter, but it is illegal under Singapore’s laws to hold dual citizenship. 

Zulfikar admitted during investigations by the Internal Security Department (ISD) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) that he had entered Singapore using his Singapore passport and withheld information regarding his Australian citizenship. 

MHA added that he lied to the ICA about his Australian citizenship when he applied to renew his Singapore passport in 2013, as he did not want to give up either citizenship. 

He has since renounced his Singapore citizenship, and ceased to be a Singapore citizen as of August 26 this year, said MHA. 

Zulfikar, who is represented by lawyer Lock Zhi Yong, will be back in court again on Oct 22.

WHO IS ZULFIKAR? 

Zulfikar has been known to be a hardline social activist with contentious views, and was radicalised as early as 2001, after reading jihadi-related material. 

According to past statements by the MHA, he has been supportive of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), and advocated Muslims taking up arms in Afghanistan after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

TODAY previously reported that he once described Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden as a better Muslim than some of Singapore’s Malay leaders, and suggested that JI plotters were motivated by the presence of the United States military in Singapore. 

In 2001 and 2002, the Islamic militant group had planned to bomb specific targets in Singapore, which included the US and Israeli embassies as well as the Australian and British high commissions, but the ISD was able to thwart its plans before they could be executed.  

Zulfikar was arrested in Singapore on July 1, 2016 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities.

The events that led to his arrest are unclear. 

Referring to Zulfikar’s arrest in a Facebook post on July 29 that year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Zulfikar had aimed to provoke Singapore Muslims to push for an Islamic state to replace Singapore’s democratic system.

As Zulfikar wanted to push his extremist agenda in Singapore, the MHA said then that he actively looked into holding training programmes aimed at radicalising young Singaporeans. He also set up an online group in 2013 to counter Western media and used Facebook as a platform to agitate on Muslim issues in Singapore. 

Related topics

MHA terrorism citizenship Internal Security Act Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff

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