SINGAPORE – A Singapore auxiliary police officer who planned to join the armed conflict against Syria's government has been arrested along with one of his colleagues, the Home Affairs Ministry said Tuesday.
Muhammad Khairul bin Mohamed, 24, was arrested earlier this month under the country's Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, the ministry said in a statement.
It said Khairul was "radicalized and had the intention to undertake armed violence in Syria" by traveling there and joining the Free Syrian Army. The group, founded by defectors from the Syrian Armed Forces, aims to overthrow the Syrian government led by President Bashar Assad.
His colleague, 36-year-old Mohamad Rizal bin Wahid, was also arrested in June under the Internal Security Act, but was released under a restriction order that forbids him from moving to a new address or traveling without approval, the ministry said.
Rizal "did not share Khairul's desire to participate in armed violence," but had been aware of his plans since 2015 and did not alert authorities, and "even suggested to Khairul various ways to get to Syria and to die there as a 'martyr,'" it said.
The ministry said Khairul perceived the conflict to be a sectarian struggle between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who follow different interpretations of Islam.
"Being a Sunni Muslim, he wanted to fight against the Shiites in Syria by joining the Free Syrian Army," the ministry said. "His readiness and proclivity to resort to violence in pursuit of a religious cause makes him a security threat to Singapore."
The two men were employed by AETOS, a private security company that provides security guards to companies and auxiliary police to the Singapore Police Force.
At the time of his arrest, Khairul was involved in traffic enforcement at Woodlands Checkpoint, which separates Singapore from neighboring Malaysia. The ministry said he did not carry a weapon in that role.
Since 2015, Singaporean authorities have detained 15 Singaporeans suspected of being Islamic State group sympathizers. The city-state's immediate neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, have large Muslim populations, and hundreds of Islamic State group sympathizers are estimated to have traveled to Syria from the two countries.