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.
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.
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.