12 December 2016
The Internal Security Department (ISD) operation interdicting the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network began 15 years ago. What have we learnt in the years that have followed? What is the future trajectory of terror?
On December 9, 2001, the ISD arrested six Singaporean Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members, with a further 15 others detained within a month, thwarting plans to attack Yishun MRT and several foreign embassies. Not many knew that it began with a tip-off from within the local Muslim community. It is worth reflecting, 15 years on, how far we have come as a state and society in the journey against terrorism, and what the future might hold.
From the start, the government realised that arrests can only be one part of the story. This has seen the threat narrative turn over the years from prevention to resilience. There has been emphasis, too, on the need to build trust between communities. The Inter Racial Confidence Circles (IRCCs, set up in 2002) helped entrench these efforts, as did the Community Engagement Programme (2006), with the latter now receiving an important refresh through the SGSecure movement. For every visible success story, there are those that exist, equally successfully, just below the radar.These have included efforts to engage the Malay/Muslim community through behind the scenes dialogue, which has been crucial in ensuring that the JI arrests did not fray communal relations. Also critical have been the efforts by the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) working with detainees, in turn complemented by the work done by the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group, which assists the families of detainees. Over time, all these efforts when put together are coming together to assume the form of a national movement.
… Shashi Jayakumar is Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A version of this appeared in The Straits Times, 9 December 2016.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 14/12/2016