Singapore authorities have arrested a 16-year-old secondary school student under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for planning a massacre of Muslims in the city-state on March 15, coinciding with the second anniversary of the New Zealand terror attacks in 2019.
Investigations also revealed troubling details of a plan to carry out the killings.
“He admitted during the investigation that he could only foresee two outcomes to his plan – that he is arrested before he is able to carry out the attacks, or he executes the plan and is thereafter killed by the police,” Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a statement.
It described the youth as “a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity”, believing that he is the youngest to be arrested on terrorism activities in Singapore.
“He was self-radicalised, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence,” ISD said, adding that the youth had also watched videos by the Islamic State and concluded that the terrorist group represented Islam.
ISD said the teenager had made an elaborate plan to launch terrorist attacks using a machete against Muslims at the Assyafaah Mosque in Sembawang and Yusof Ishak Mosque, to replicate Australian Brenton Tarrant’s action of gunning down 51 people who were attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand two years ago.
ISD said the youth was planning to launch the attack on March 15, on the second anniversary of the Christchurch massacre.
“Like Tarrant, the youth intended to drive between the two attack sites, and therefore devised a plan to procure a vehicle to use during the attack,” the statement said.
Investigations also revealed that the youth had planned to buy a rifle similar to the one used in the New Zealand attack.
It said he also explored attacking the mosques with gasoline bombs, and “persisted to search for firearms online” before realising it was difficult to get the guns into Singapore.
“He eventually dropped both ideas due to logistical and personal safety concerns. To prepare himself for the knifing attack, the youth had watched YouTube videos, and was confident that he would be able to hit the arteries of his targets by randomly slashing at the neck and chest areas.
“At the point of his arrest by ISD, the youth had found his choice machete on Carousell but had not purchased it yet,” ISD added.
Authorities said the youth had purchased a tactical vest and was planning to “adorn the vest with right-wing extremist symbols, and modify it so that he could strap on his mobile device to livestream the attack, just like Tarrant”.
Meanwhile, the ISD said the youth had acted alone.
“His immediate family and others in his social circles were not aware of his attack plans and the depth of his hatred for Islam.”