Singapore detains two men seeking to join IS, including a follower of Zahran

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Two Singaporeans accused of intending to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria have been detained without trial under the city-state’s tough security laws, authorities said Thursday.

They were the latest arrests in Singapore of people allegedly supporting the jihadists or planning to fight with them, with the country’s leaders warning it is a prime target for an attack due to its status as a regional financial centre.

The interior ministry said a 36-year-old money-changer, Kuthubdeen Haja Najumudeen, was arrested in May and a 47-year-old former delivery assistant, Suderman Samikin, was detained this month.

They were arrested in two separate cases under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial for up to two years.

“Investigations established that they were radicalised and had harboured the intention to make their way to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said Haja was a follower of Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind and one of the suicide bombers in the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka which killed 258 people in April.

He donated funds to Zahran and his group, though investigators did not find any indication that he was involved in the attacks, the ministry said.

Suderman is accused of joining a pro-IS Facebook group and actively seeking advice on how to join IS. He had been in prison previously for drug consumption.

As the jihadists’ “caliphate” crumbled in the Middle East, members of the group have dispersed and are surfacing with their own operations and networks elsewhere, including Southeast Asia.

There have been a steady stream of such cases reported in recent years in Singapore, which is majority ethnic Chinese but also has a sizeable Muslim minority.

In February, authorities said that a Singaporean businessman who allegedly gave support to a Malaysian IS militant in Syria had been arrested under the tough laws.

And in January, a 40-year old, unemployed man was detained under the act after investigations found that he was radicalised and intended to travel to Syria to join the jihadists.