05 October 2016
The Singapore government has decided that it needs to participate in the coalition military efforts against the Islamic State (Isis). Officially, its reasons are that radical Jihadi terrorism is an ongoing problem, both globally as well as locally, and Singapore had to do its part in helping the global community eradicate it. Admittedly, its contribution to the war against Isis is relatively small: it commits no ground forces, but rather, a number of senior military planners working in the coalition’s operations centre.
The Singapore government recently altered its analysis of the threat of terrorism against Singapore, now arguing that a terrorist attack on the city-state is no longer a question of ‘if’, rather of ‘when’. In August, a plot to launch rocket attacks against Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands from the Indonesian island of Batam was uncovered, and authorities in Indonesia have since arrested a number of Indonesians who were allegedly involved in this plot. But with Singapore deciding to actively support the anti-Isis military efforts, many might question whether the city-state has just made itself a terrorist target.
Confusingly, the answer is both yes and no. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted as much in August, when he said at the White House: “We are a target of Isis anyway. The JI [Jemaah Islamiyah] were looking for us before we did anything and before we knew they existed… If they see Indonesia and Malaysia as legitimate targets, all the more Singapore is a rational, open, cosmopolitan country, and not what they think countries should be, and therefore should be attacked. So do not think that by lying low, we are not going to be a target.”
… Bernard Loo Fook Weng is an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The views expressed here are strictly personal.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 06/10/2016