(Repeats story, changing slug to SYRIA-CRISIS/SINGAPORE)
SINGAPORE, July 9 A handful of Singaporean
citizens have gone to Syria to participate in the conflict
there, raising concern about a terrorist threat in the
city-state, a senior government official was quoted by a
state-owned TV network as saying.
As Sunni Islamist rebels surge into Iraq from Syria,
security officials in Southeast Asia and Australia worry that
the conflict is radicalising a new generation of militants, who
are being influenced to an unprecedented degree by social media.
Teo Chee Hean, Singapore's deputy prime minister and home
affairs minister, told parliament on Wednesday that Haja
Fakkurudeen Usman Ali, a naturalised Singaporean citizen, had
taken his wife and three children to Syria, Channel NewsAsia
"The presence of former foreign fighters in our region -
whether they originate from Southeast Asia or elsewhere - is a
security threat to us," Teo said.
"The threat is magnified if these returnee fighters are
A female Singaporean is also believed to have gone to Syria
with her husband and two teenage children. Several others,
including Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader, Zakaria Rosdan and Khairul
Sofri Osman, were stopped before they could leave, Teo added.
The United States has urged countries in Europe and
elsewhere to do more to keep their citizens from travelling to
Syria to fight.
Teo compared the current Syria crisis to the Soviet-Afghan
war in the 1980s, which drew thousands of foreign fighters and
led to the creation of Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda, through Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah
Islamiyah, planned bomb attacks in Singapore in the early 2000s.
It is unclear with what group the Singaporeans are fighting.
The Ministry of Home Affairs declined to comment on "operational
matters", when contacted by Reuters.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has told the
city-state's Muslim community that the fighting in Syria is not
for religious purposes and cautioned Muslims against being
swayed into fighting the "holy war".
(Reporting by Rujun Shen; Additional reporting by Yantoultra
Ngui in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)