SINGAPORE: A Singaporean who exhorted others to join the Islamic State in a video has been fighting in Iraq and Syria and was injured in combat, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday (Sep 26).
Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39, is believed to be the radicalised Singaporean known as Abu ‘Uqayl in an IS propaganda video.
He was radicalised after leaving Singapore to work in “a country in the Middle East” in early 2014, MHA said. The ministry released more information about Shahdan in a statement on Tuesday (Sep 26).
SECRET SOCIETY MEMBER
Shahdan, who grew up in Singapore, dropped out of school at a young age, and was a secret society member.
He has a string of drug and criminal convictions to his name, MHA said. Between 1997 and 2009, he was in and out of jail and was also on drug supervision regimes. He did not hold down any stable work and took up odd jobs.
“He did not show any obvious signs of being religiously inclined. Nor did he show any radical tendencies,” MHA said in its statement.
After leaving Singapore for the Middle East, he took up different jobs in the tourism and renovation industries and tried unsuccessfully to start his own business.
“INTEREST TO PERFORM JIHAD”
At the same time, family members who visited him there noticed that he had become more observant of his religious obligations. He reportedly attended religious gatherings, and was “believed to have subsequently become radicalised by IS’s violent ideology”.
He told at least one of his family members of his interest to perform jihad.
Shahdan made his way to Syria to join IS in September 2014. He is believed to have contacted one of his family members while he was at the Turkish-Syrian border, saying he was on his way to Syria, MHA said. He later also asked for the family member’s prayers for his safe crossing into Syria.
FIGHTING ON FRONTLINES
Since then, Shahdan has been fighting for IS on the frontlines, and even suffered an injury in combat, MHA said. His combat deployments in IS have included areas in Iraq and Syria.
Shahdan dispensed religious advice to family and friends in Singapore while he was in Syria and Iraq. He told his family he hoped they will migrate to IS’s self-declared caliphate, as in his view, it is a sin to live in an infidel country.
He has also said that he would intercede for 70 of his relatives should he achieve martyrdom, and exhorted his family members to support IS. None of them is known to have responded to his overtures.
Shahdan is the third Singaporean known to be in Syria and Iraq. The other two Singaporeans, Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali and Maimunah Abdul Kadir are believed to be still in Syria with their families.
SPIKE IN SELF-RADICALISATION
“Their involvement in an overseas armed conflict jeopardises Singapore’s security,” MHA said. “In Shahdan’s case, it is compounded by the fact that he is also actively propagating IS’s violent ideology and rallying others to engage in combat in support of IS.
“This is of particular concern as we have seen in a spike in the number of self-radicalisation cases following the rise of IS and proliferation of its propaganda materials.”