Friday, 1 December 2017

Singapore on edge as Islamic State circles

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned it's not a matter of "if" but "when" the wealthy city-state is targeted by international terrorists


While international linked terror attacks have hit various Southeast Asian nations, Singapore has so far been immune. But as Islamic State (IS) makes deeper inroads into the region, the city state is now on its highest terror threat alert level in years.

Transnational terror groups are believed to see the island nation as a symbolic target for its status as a global financial center with close strategic ties with the United States. It participates in international coalitions against terrorism and hosts several Western targets, including embassies and military installations.

Singapore has honed its counterterrorism strategy in recent years, setting up specialist forces and emergency response teams while doubling down on efforts to sensitize the public and foster community vigilance. Authorities also stage preparedness exercises and elaborate drills simulating attacks on high-profile targets.

The sense of vulnerability, long part of the island state’s national psyche due to various geostrategic anxieties and proximity to hotbeds of Islamic militancy, has not been lost on top officials.

Indeed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has noted on several occasions in the past year that Singapore operates on the expectation of “when” rather than “if” a terror attack will occur.

Read the full story at the Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.