Channel NewsAsia

Singapore will join coalition against Islamic State

To combat the militant group, Singapore will contribute assets that were previously deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says.

SINGAPORE: The Republic will join 33 other nations in a multinational coalition to combat the Islamic State militant group, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Monday (Nov 3). Joining in the ongoing international efforts "contributes directly to Singapore's own security", added Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has previously participated in multinational coalition efforts against religious extremists who pose a terrorist threat to Singapore and Singaporeans – as it did in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban – and it will continue to participate in such efforts, Dr Ng said.

In response to a question from MP Alex Yam on how SAF will contribute to the coalition, Dr Ng said SAF’s contribution will be "within its means" and "sustainable and useful". This includes sending liaison and planning officers to the United States Central Command and the Combined Joint Task Force HQ, a KC-135R tanker aircraft for air-to-air refuelling, and an Imagery Analysis Team – assets that were previously deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These contributions have proved effective and were appreciated by international partners, he added.

There will be no SAF troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria; they will instead operate out of neighbouring countries, Dr Ng said.

"There will be risks to our SAF servicemen as they carry out their missions. To mitigate these risks, we will ensure that our servicemen are well equipped, and receive additional training in weapon handling, dealing with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), as well as reacting to hostile elements," Dr Ng said.


Deputy Prime Minister Teo said in a separate statement on Monday that Singapore is not immune to the Islamic State threat.

“The threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria affects all of us, in all countries," said Mr Teo, adding that Singapore "needs to play its part and support international efforts to contain the threat posed by ISIS" as it "contributes directly to our own security".

Mr Teo also said Singapore has taken actions to strengthen community bonds and to counter extremist ideology to help prevent Singaporeans from becoming radicalised. He said it is "heartening" to see how all communities have worked with or supported one another on this front.

"Our Malay-Muslim community in particular has taken a firm stance against the violent actions of ISIS, and taken proactive steps to counter their extremist ideology, and to help all those who are suffering from violence in the Middle East,” he added.


Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, also reiterated the Malay-Muslim community's stance against ISIS.

"MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), Malay/Muslim organisations, community leaders and the Government have worked very hard together for many years to combat radical teachings that abuse the name of Islam," said Dr Yaacob, the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

"I strongly urge all communities to continue to work together so that our people are more informed, understand each other better, and are not easily swayed by inaccurate or provocative foreign or social media reporting. This way, we will emerge stronger as Singaporeans, united in our common goal for peace, understanding and harmony."

"The terrorist activities by ISIS pose a threat to all Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion," he added. "Our decision to be part of the multi-national coalition against ISIS is primarily to protect Singapore and Singaporeans. Although based far away in foreign countries, we know that terrorist groups can pose a direct security threat to us through their efforts to export terrorism to this region. We cannot be complacent."

Dr Yaacob also said that the move against ISIS cannot be "interpreted as an act against Islam".

"I know some of us may think that Islam and Muslims have been put in the spotlight again," said Dr Yaacob. "But this move against ISIS cannot be interpreted as an act against Islam, or Muslims, because ISIS is not Islamic."

"Mufti, Pergas and RRG (The Religious and Rehabilitation Group) have joined international Muslim scholars and leaders in condemning ISIS unequivocally," he added. "They have all declared that ISIS’ radical teachings and actions have nothing to do with Islam. Islam upholds peace, the preservation of human life and its sanctity, and it is thus forbidden in Islam to wage war wantonly on others."