SINGAPORE, May 23 — Some people who had been investigated under the Internal Security Act (ISA), including a teenager who was later detained, were followers of Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam revealed on Monday (May 23), saying that Somad’s teachings has “real-world consequences”.
Since Somad was denied entry into Singapore last Monday, some of his followers have also publicly threatened on social media to physically attack Singapore in a manner similar to the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001. Another comment called on Singapore to be bombed, Shanmugam noted.
“I think one shouldn’t dismiss them completely,” Shanmugam said as he read out these social comments while speaking to reporters at the Ministry of Home Affair’s (MHA) headquarters on Monday.
“Parallels are being drawn with 9/11. Parallels are being drawn with Singaporeans being led by non-Islamic leaders and that Singapore should be attacked.”
Shanmugam said that the authorities have known of Somad’s teachings for some time.
In January 2020, a 17-year-old boy who had watched videos of Somad’s teachings was detained under the ISA.
Shanmugam said that the boy had watched many YouTube lectures on suicide bombing, a topic MHA has said Somad has endorsed in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The young boy began to believe that if you fought for Isis, and if you’re a suicide bomber, you can die as a martyr and receive rewards in heaven. So you can see Somad’s preachings have real-world consequences.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs said last week that Abdul Somad was denied entry because he was “known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society”.
The 44-year-old preacher has said he was planning to enter Singapore for a social visit with his family and friends when he was stopped by immigration officers at the Tanah Merah Ferry terminal last Monday at around 2.30pm.
Somad claimed on Instagram that he was kept in a 1m by 2m immigration detention room before being “deported” by Singapore authorities.
In a YouTube video after he was denied entry to Singapore, Somad has said that Singapore is “Tanah Melayu”, or Malay land, and claims that the people in Riau province where he is from see Singapore as part of their land.
“It tells you what they really think of Singapore, and that if we don’t do what they tell us, then they threaten attacks,” Shanmugam said.
He added that he was grateful that many Indonesians, officials as well as commentators, have rejected these claims of sovereignty and have defended Singapore.
Asked whether the Government was aware if Somad has a strong following among Singaporeans, Shanmugam said authorities will intervene when they sense that people move onto the stage of radicalisation.
“Beyond that, our advice is for Singaporeans to be careful about divisive teachings,” he said.
“Everyone is free to practise their religion here… but we don’t need to cross the line and attack somebody else.” — TODAY