Six arrested in planned Singapore attack
Indonesian police have arrested six suspected militants who they believed to be linked to the Islamic State group and plotting a rocket attack on Singapore, authorities in Indonesia and Singapore said.
Singapore said it was stepping up security in response to the plan to attack it that was being hatched on Indonesia’s Batam island, which is only about 15km to the south of the wealthy city-state.
Members of an elite Singapore police unit patrolled the glittering downtown waterfront in vehicles and on foot on Friday afternoon. One officer said they were on routine patrol.
Indonesian police spokesman Agus Rianto told reporters the six suspects had been plotting with a member of the Islamic State militant group in Syria to attack Singapore, a major commercial, banking and travel hub that is home to many Western expatriates.
‘ What we understand so far is that they were planning to attack vital objects, busy areas including police offices,’ Rianto said.
Asked whether police had recovered any physical evidence of a rocket attack, Rianto said ‘ not yet’ .
The six arrested were suspected of having links to Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting with Islamic State in Syria, police said.
Indonesian investigators believe that Naim was one of the masterminds behind an attack in January in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, in which eight people were killed including the four attackers.
‘ There’s a link to Bahrun Naim because there was communication with Bahrun Naim – but whether they were affiliated with Bahrun Naim’s group or not – this is what we’re investigating now,’ Rianto said.
The Batam Pos newspaper quoted police as saying the six suspects were mostly factory workers aged between 19 and 46.
Batam is linked to Singapore by frequent ferries and its beach resorts and golf courses are a popular weekend getaway destination.
Singapore, which is celebrating its National Day holiday next week, said it is not surprised by the arrests.
‘ We were aware of the plans being made to attack us with rockets,’ Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in a statement.
He did not elaborate on what type of rockets the plotters planned to use or what evidence for the plan had been uncovered.
‘ The attacks can come from terrorists who seek to come into Singapore; and they can come from terrorists who locate themselves just outside Singapore. Our small size increases these risks,’ he said.
Multi-ethnic Singapore has never seen a successful attack by Islamist militants, though authorities did break up a plot to bomb several embassies soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, while jailed Singaporean militant Mas Selamat Kastari was accused of plotting to crash a hijacked plane into the city-state’s Changi Airport in 2002.
Indonesian authorities did not confirm details of the latest alleged plot.
National police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said police and an anti-terrorist unit were in the early stages of their investigation.