28 June 2017
For the Islamic State, a terrorist attack on Singapore would be strategically and psychologically a great achievement, as this was something that even Al-Qaeda failed to do in the past. It would also signal to other terrorists that despite all the counterterrorist measures, Singapore is “hittable.” ISIS would also hope to punish Singapore not only for supporting Western efforts in the “war on terror” but also for the robust counterterrorism measures the republic has put in place domestically, which have led to many arrests and made the ground infertile for ISIS propaganda and support.
Singapore is also seen as an attractive target as it remains a major regional and global financial capital and a hub for international multinational corporations. It is seen as the capital of capitalism in the region and a key node in international trade. A successful attack on Singapore’s shipping business, especially its oil industry, would represent a psychological boost for the jihadists, proving that Singapore is not only vulnerable but also penetrable. A successful attack on Singapore would also damage the tourism industry, representing a major blow to the city-state. The fact that the late commander of Katibah Nusantara, Bahrumsyah, recently called for an attack on Singapore is something that is not to be dismissed.
As no one state can prevent a jihadi attack, regional cooperation is likely to become even more important as Singapore tries to deter and prevent returnees, including fighters from Mindanao, from launching attacks.
… Bilveer Singh, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore; an adjunct senior fellow at the Center of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU; and president of the Political Science Association, Singapore.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 03/07/2017