Singapore detains Australian citizen for two years for allegedly spreading radical ideology


Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff arrested for allegedy promoting and glorifying Islamic State on Facebook.

An Australian citizen has been ordered detained without trial in Singapore for two years for allegedly supporting Islamic State, and for his alleged role in “radicalising” two other Singaporean citizens.

A statement issued by the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday said Zulfikar bin Mohamad Shariff had been detained under Singapore’s Internal Security Act in July 2016.

The statement alleged he had “embarked on the path to radicalisation” after reading extremist material and was a supporter of al-Qaida.

It alleges: “Zulfikar has supported terrorism and the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis). He made numerous Facebook postings glorifying and promoting Isis and their violent actions, while exploiting religion to legitimise the terrorist activities of Isis.”

It also alleged that he had “contributed to the radicalisation of at least two other Singaporeans”.

His lengthy detention and the contracted legal process – which appears to have been initiated only earlier in July – raises questions about Singapore’s anti-terrorism laws and the legal process Shariff went through. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.

Singapore’s terrorism laws can permit detention for extraordinary periods of time without trial.

The release alleged that Shariff had at times “tried to hide his real motivations” by putting out moderate views: “But in reality, he believes in the use of violence to overthrow the democratic system of government, and the imposition of an Islamic caliphate.”

The Singaporean government has provided extremely limited public evidence to support the detention of Shariff. It has posted a Facebook image of Shariff that shows him standing with family members before a Shahada flag.

The Shahada flag does not have any express radical or extreme messaging, although it has been co-opted by some radical groups. The release appears to indicate this photo triggered the detention, but it remains unclear whether the Singaporean government has any material to back its claims.

The release added that Shariff, 44, had resettled in Australia in 2002 with his family, and maintained contact with a number of radical preachers.