TL;DR – Not if but when.
Singapore’s role as a major global hub for aviation, finance, trade and tourism. Singapore is also a close ally of the United States and is part of the international coalition taking on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. That makes Singapore a high-profile target for attention-grabbing transnational jihadi groups.
And there have been attempts.
A plot targeting well-known landmarks was foiled by the authorities in the first half of 2016. Then in August last year, Indonesian security forces disrupted an ambitious plot by militants located across the Singapore Strait in Batam, to launch a rocket attack targeting the Marina Bay Sands resort.
It will get scarier…
The situation will only get more dire. Now there are some Malaysians and at least one Singaporean who have joined ISIS in Syria. And one of the Malaysian members of ISIS has emerged with a call for supporters of the terror group to launch attacks on their own countries.
Muhammad Aqif Heusen Rahizat, 25, known as Abu Sufyan Malayzi to his comrades, appeared in a video along with the Singaporean member of ISIS, Abu Akil Al Singapuri.
In that video, Aqif urged others to launch attacks in the name of Allah if they cannot join IS in Syria. He said:
“Allah has ordered you to launch jihad (armed struggle) in your own country. If you face obstacles to hijrah (migrate) to the land of Iraq and Sham (Syria), then Allah has opened to all of you the land of jihad in your own country. You have no reason (to say) you are left out from defending your religion.”
And the Jihad that Aqif talked about included slaying the enemies of Allah.
With terrorists using more ways to wreak havoc
These militants will try everything to wreak terror and havoc. That includes using bombs made of radioactive material. The Malaysian police have recorded no less than 20 cases involving radioactive and nuclear materials which have “gone missing” over recent years. While some may have been retrieved, the whereabouts of many others remain unknown.
Those that haven’t been retrieved might have fallen into the hands of terrorists. While those radioactive material can’t be used to make a nuclear bomb, they can be used to make a ”dirty bomb”. That’s when radioactive material is combined with powerful home-made explosives. When the bomb explodes, the radioactive material is dispersed, contaminating a large area.
The destructive effects of a dirty bomb isn’t that great. It’s unlikely to cause many deaths. However, it would create psychological harm through ignorance, mass panic, and terror. And that’s exactly what the terrorists want to achieve. They can then capitalise on the panic and terror to make people distrust one another and fracture society.
Is Singapore ready for something like that?
We have revamped our counter-terrorism strategy.
As part of the new measures, CCTV coverage is set to expand across the city, with additional cameras being installed around government buildings, transport hubs, entertainment venues and shopping malls. CCTV data is also set to become more rapidly accessible to police, whilst the public has been encouraged to submit images and videos of suspicious activity to the authorities.
New construction laws and building regulations aim to enhance security around major tourist attractions and public areas with heavy footfall. Developers are now required to add enhanced security measures at the design stage; whilst pre-existing buildings can now be forced to install high-tech CCTV systems and vehicle barriers.
Singapore’s police force has also upgraded its capabilities through the formation of new highly-trainedEmergency Response Teams (ERTs), designed to arrive rapidly at the scene of an ongoing attack and quickly overpower the assailants. The officers that make-up these units are specially trained in urban assault skills, and will have access to greater firepower than regular recruits.
But beyond all those measures, what’s more important is to ensure that people of different races and religions trust one another in times of crises and even after an attack. That’s the only way we can truly deny the terrorists of the victory they want.
(Featured image via)