09:43 GMT28 November 2020
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    Singapore’s defense minister has warned that Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) poses a “clear and present danger” to Southeast Asia. In the past three years, the group has attracted more followers than al-Qaeda did in the ten years after 9/11.

    Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen has warned that Daesh fighters pose a “clear and present danger to Southeast Asia as they return from Syria and Iraq with a mission to establish a caliphate.”

    In the past three years, Daesh and its ideology have attracted more followers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore than al-Qaida drew in the 10 years following the September 11 attacks in the US.

    Up to 150 Islamist fighters left predominantly Muslim Malaysia for Iraq and Syria, including some from the Malaysian armed forces.
    Indonesia is the most populous predominantly Muslim country in the world; it has reported more than 500 Daesh fighters from among its population. A few have traveled from Singapore, Ng said at an event organized by the Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Security.

    “The returned fighters have come back with allegiance to Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) and the mission to form an Islamic caliphate in our part of the world,” he added.

    “They have sympathizers; they have foreign fighters who are trained, who have the motivation, the means, and who have a common vision,” he said.

    He stressed the importance of intelligence-sharing among countries in the region to address the threat, while expressing concern that followers of al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia who had pledged allegiance to Daesh would now link up.


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