Also known as Islamic State (IS) and

Also
known as Islamic State (IS) and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a terrorist militant group, known for
its brutal assaults on civilians. Its roots traced back to the U.S. invasion of
Iraq in 2003. Thousands of Sunnis formerly loyal to Saddam Hussein were left
jobless and became mad when the U.S. administrators, under Paul Bremer, decided
to “de-Baathify” the Iraqi civil and military services. Since then, al Qaeda in
Iraq was established to retaliate against U.S. troops in Iraq. It has spread
the vengeance spirit beyond its territories, particularly into large areas in
the Middle East. This self-proclaimed caliphate has claimed responsibility for
the many terrorist attacks around the world, and destroyed many monuments, buildings
and temples. They have also inspired “lone-wolf” terror attacks by sympathizers
in places far away such as Ottawa and Sydney. Currently, there are many
countries fighting together against ISIS. As Western governments attempt to
prevent the threat of ISIS terror reaching the Western world, they may choose
to reject refugees fleeing ISIS. Yet, this may leave the refugees susceptible
to conspiracy and extremism that breeds jihadi violence.

Singapore
has been targeted by several terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Jemaah
Islamiah, yet ISIS is currently the one posing the most significant threat in
recent years. ISIS had plotted to carry out a few attacks against Singapore,
which were fortunately immediately dealt with by the Singapore authorities and
prevented. In August 2016, the Indonesian authorities prevented the Katibah
Gonggong Rebus, a Btam-based terrorist group, instructed by the Indonesian ISIS
group based in Syria, from launching a rocket attack against the Marina Bay
Sands integrated resort from an outer island of Batam. Clearly, Singapore is a key
target of these terrorist groups. This is made evident when Singapore was cited
as a target in jihadist publications and videos, on top of the attempted terror
attacks. In September 2015, an ISIS publication which listed Singapore as a
member of the “crusader coalition” ISIS was fighting against was released. And again,
in May 2016, an ISIS video named Singapore (among other countries) as a country
infiltrated by “disbelievers” and threatened the “tyrants” of the country. This
may be largely because Singapore is a secular democracy and is very relevant to
the Western world as host to many of the economic and commercial interests of
the Western nations. On top of that, Singapore has taken part in several
international coalitions against terrorism. Currently, ISIS remains the most significant
threat to Singapore.

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ISIS’
intentions are clear – to get more attention, inflict damage and thus spread
fear. It wants to break down the psychological resilience and social fabric of
local communities, to cause divide between communities. Singapore has seen at
least two citizens joining ISIS. This is a very real issue. Singapore treat such
threats seriously as it is very vulnerable due to its small size and it being
located between two large neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia. Terrorism has
highlighted the importance of societal resilience. Because it is a multi-racial
society, Singapore need to maintain racial harmony among its various
communities. Especially in times of extremism and terror like now, Singaporeans
need to build social resilience and stay united. Insensitivity may spark
misunderstandings and create tension among various races which can potentially
turn any one of us into a terrorist. According to the Senior Minister of State
for the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Dr Maliki Osman, this
entails building and investing in relationships with each other, having proper
understanding and trust amongst the different races and religions, and
rejecting discrimination against fellow Singaporeans.

The
Singapore government has taken many preventive measures like enhancing
protective security measures for buildings and premises. It also constantly upgrades
its capabilities and modifies its operational set-up, training the security and
police response forces to be well-prepared, both mentally and physically. Despite
the government’s effort, Singapore is still not completely safe from terrorism
and will never be. However, Singaporeans can do their part to make Singapore
safe by portraying community vigilance, cohesion and resilience. To encourage Singaporeans
to play a more active role, the Community Engagement Programme was introduced
and has since brought community leaders together, building ties between different
races and religions. SG Secure, which represents the national strategy to safeguard
Singapore against such threats, was launched and has successfully been made
known to members of the public. However, with all these campaigns and talks,
many Singaporeans remain unclear and confused, not knowing the danger that surrounds
them or how to deal with it. The government needs to continue reaching out to
citizens and ensuring they are equipped with right skills while the citizens ought
to help spread the message and raise awareness about this issue among fellow Singaporeans.