Singapore Deports 26 Bangladeshis Accused of Militant Activities

  • Government says they weren't planning terror acts in Singapore
  • Men were working in Singapore in the construction industry

Singapore authorities arrested and deported 26 Bangladeshi construction workers they accused of supporting violent Islamist extremism, but said they weren’t planning attacks in the country.

A 27th man will be deported once he has served a sentence for trying to leave Singapore illegally, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on its website. The arrests took place between Nov. 16 and Dec. 1 last year.

“The group members took measures to avoid detection by the authorities,” the ministry said Wednesday in the statement. “They shared jihadi-related material discreetly among themselves, and held weekly meetings and gatherings where they discussed armed jihad and conflicts that involved Muslims."

Singapore is closely watching threats from Islamist extremists as the country’s prosperity is reliant on tourism and a reputation as a safe place to do business in an unstable region. The city-state lies between mostly Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, which have each struggled against militancy for decades. Last week’s gun and bomb attacks in the Indonesian capital Jakarta by militants acting in the name of Islamic State highlighted the threat.

The ministry said some of the men supported the ideology of groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State, encouraged others to wage jihad against the Bangladeshi government on their return and contemplated traveling to fight in the Middle East. It said several members of the group had shared a document containing images and instructions on how to kill people using different techniques and weapons.

The men were arrested under the Internal Security Act, which allows for lengthy periods of preventive detention without trial. It was unclear if they had any legal representation.

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