Authorities in Singapore say they have detained without trial a 16-year-old student who made detailed plans and preparations to launch “terrorist attacks” on two mosques with a machete.
The Internal Security Department said the Singaporean teen was inspired by an Australian gunman who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019.
The teen, described as “a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity” who wasn’t named as he is underage, was “self-radicalised, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence,” the department said in a statement.
The ministry described the arrested boy as “a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity” who was “self-radicalized” and acting alone.
The teen was detained in December and was the youngest terror suspect to be held under the country’s Internal Security Act, it added.
The department said its investigation had found that the boy was working alone and had planned to strike two mosques near his home on March 15, the second anniversary of the Christchurch attack.
Just like the gunman in that attack, he planned to live-stream his act by strapping mobile phones to a vest, the statement said.
It said he also prepared two statements to be distributed just before the attack.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam was quoted by local media as saying that authorities do not intend to charge the teen as he was underage and hadn’t carried out the act.
But he said it was worrying as it marked the first case of political extremists targeting Muslims in the tiny Southeast Asian country.
Authorities said the teen will undergo a rehabilitation process involving religious, psychological and social counselling.
Giving further details, the department statement said the teen had explored various options including obtaining a firearm online, building a bomb and using petrol to douse the mosques.
He later decided to use a machete and had studied how to slash the main arteries of his victims.
One of the statements he prepared referred to his planned attacks as a “massacre,” an “act of vengeance” and a “call for war” against Islam, authorities said.
Another was a manifesto similar to the one written by the Christchurch gunman, who the teen referred to as a “saint”.
The department said the teen was ready to die during the attack.
The department said that the teen’s family and others close to him had no idea about his plans nor his hatred for Islam.
“This case demonstrates yet again that extreme ideas can find resonance among and radicalise Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion,” the department said.
Singapore’s 5.7-million-population is a mix of citizens of Chinese, Indian and Malay descent and about 1.5 million foreign workers, with Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism all having substantial followings in the wealthy city-state.