Updated: 07/10/2014 02:08

S'poreans must prevent loved ones from being radicalised by radical propaganda, says DPM Teo

S'poreans must prevent loved ones from being radicalised by radical propaganda, says DPM Teo

As many as 12,000 foreigners may have already gone to fight in Syria.

Among them are a handful of known Singaporeans. 

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says those who have returned to this region are a security threat to Singapore especially if they are Singaporeans. 

Mr Teo, who's also the Home Affairs Minister, outlined in Parliament the steps being taken to address this threat. 

Mr Teo says a key challenge is to counter the radical propaganda used by terrorists to recruit foreign fighters. 

He says the core issue is one of ideology, between those who distort Islam for their violent political ends, and those who uphold it as a religion of peace. 

Mr Teo says the government has discussed the security concerns arising from the Syrian conflict with Singapore's religious leaders. 

And they're going to expand ongoing efforts to counter radical ideology. 

"The objective of these efforts is to marginalise militant ideas and prevent them from gaining a foothold among the wider community." 

Mr Teo says social media and the Internet have also been a game-changer in the Syrian conflict. 

And young people are particularly vulnerable to online propaganda. 

As it's not possible to insulate Singaporeans against such rhetoric.

Mr Teo says Singaporeans must play their part in preventing their loved ones and friends from becoming radicalised. 

"They should seek help by bringing such individuals to the attention of the authorities early, rather than let the individual go deeper down the path towards violence, and causing the death of others, and of themselves." 

Mr Teo says Singaporeans who wish to help victims of the Syrian conflict can do so by giving humanitarian aid through bona fide local organisations. 

He strongly advises them, however, to check with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or MUIS, before making any donations as some foreign humanitarian organisations may actually be a cover for radicals, who use them to raise money, or recruit fighters. 

And he urged Singaporeans not to allow any fallout from the Syrian conflict to unravel efforts to strengthen trust and religious harmony here.

-By John Yip

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