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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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ISIS Ideology Attracts Islamist Groups in South East Asia, Singapore's Defense Minister Says

ISIS Fighters

Singapore's defense minister has warned that ISIS is attracting fighters from South-east Asian countries, who could return to their home countries after being trained to carry out terrorist attacks.

Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen has warned that the return of the Islamic State fighters is a "clear and present danger" to south-east Asian countries. Following the terror attacks in Paris, authorities in Asian countries have highlighted the threat that the region is under from battle-hardened locals in the Middle East, who could return to their home countries to plot terror attacks.

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Ng revealed that in the past three years, ISIS and its ideology has fascinated more and more followers in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. ISIS' ability to attract new followers is said to be highly intense compared to Al-Qaida after the depressing Sept. 11 attack in the United States.

Al-Qaida allied groups like Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf are potential threat to local security because of their allegiance to the Islamic State. Jemaah Islamiyah is an Islamic extremist organization, which was linked to large-scale strikes in Indonesia since 2002. Abu Sayyaf is a militant Islamist group in the Philippines that are responsible for several bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and assassinations in their fight for an independent Islamic province in Philippines. 

Ng added that up to 150 foreign fighters have been caught traveling to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. These fighters were allegedly from the Malaysian Armed Forces. In Indonesia, more than 500 have joined the Islamic State and a few from Singapore.

ISIS has attracted groups that have fighters who are well trained and who have a common vision. Due to this, Ng said that the sharing of information among southeast Asian countries is essential to contain this threat.

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