Updated: 07/10/2014 02:04

Foreign fighters in Syria conflict a threat to S'pore, says DPM Teo

Foreign fighters in Syria conflict a threat to S'pore, says DPM Teo

The Syrian crisis has raised the threat of terrorism in Singapore. 

Speaking in Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says a handful of Singaporeans have gone to Syria to take part in the conflict. 

Mr Teo, who's also the Home Affairs Minister, says some of them were detected before they could travel to Syria and were detained under the Internal Security Act. 

Others have expressed interest to join in the fighting and are under investigation. 

He adds that there have also been foreign fighters who have travelled to Syria via Singapore. 

There are also extremists from neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, who have been trained in Syria. 

"The presence of former foreign fighters in our region - whether they originate from Southeast Asia or elsewhere, is a security threat to us. This threat is magnified if these returnee fighters are Singaporeans."

Mr Teo says if more Singaporeans are found to have fought in or supported the conflict in Syria, it may give rise to mistrust and tension between our communities. 

This was the case in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US, and after the detention of Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah members in January 2002. 

That's why the government has put in considerable effort to work with the communities to protect ethnic relations and social harmony. 

Mr Teo says these efforts go beyond the Muslim community. 

"It's also important for all Singaporeans to be aware of what's going in Syria, and the serious implications it can have on us. We don't look at it as an issue for just one community. But we look at it as an issue that we all face together."

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