Teen Detained After He Planned Attack On Mosques in Singapore

In December 2020, a 16-year-old boy was constrained under Singapore’s Internal Security Act (ISA) for "detailed plans and preparations to conduct terrorist attacks" on Muslims as they worshipped in two local Mosques, authorities reported on January 27th, 2021.

The suspect was not identified because he is underage. The nameless Singaporean teenager is a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity. He is the youngest citizen to be investigated under the ISA for terrorism-related activities, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a media release.

“He was self-radicalized, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence,” ISD said. “He had also watched Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda videos, and came to the erroneous conclusion that ISIS represented Islam and that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers.”

In preparation for the attack without firearms, the teen watched instructional YouTube videos until he was confident of hitting his victim’s arteries by slashing specific areas of the body. He planned to use a machete to carry out his attacks at the mosques on March 15th, the second anniversary of the 2019 terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Before deciding on the machete as his attack weapon, the youth had explored various other options, including an original plan to use an assault rifle similar to that used by the New Zealand terrorist.  

The would-be terrorist canceled a potential rifle purchase after having private chats online with a prospective seller. He suspected it was a scam when he was asked to pay via Bitcoin. He diligently searched but soon changed his mind about using firearms once he realized how difficult they are to purchase, especially with Singapore’s gun-control restrictions.

By the time the young man was apprehended, he had settled on a machete as his weapon. He found one by arms manufacturer Smith & Wesson via Carousell, and he added the item to his favorite listings. 

Similar to the New Zealand terrorist, he intended to drive between two mosques. Although he had no driver's license, he planned to rent a BlueSG car by stealing his father’s credit card so he could travel quickly between the two mosques.  He also watched video instructions about how to operate an automatic transmission vehicle.

So far, investigations imply the youth acted alone. “His immediate family and others in his social circles were not aware of his attack plans and the depth of his hatred for Islam,” ISD said.

"While in detention, he will undergo a holistic program consisting of religious, psychological, and social rehabilitation. A Christian religious counselor will be engaged to help him correct the radical ideology he has imbibed," said an ISD spokesperson.

ISD stressed how this case demonstrates, yet again, how extreme ideas can find resonance among radicalized youths, regardless of race or religion.

“It is a threat to all of us and our way of life. We must remain vigilant to signs that someone around us may have become radicalized so that we can intervene early to avert a tragedy," stated ISD.

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