SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has detained eight Bangladeshi men planning to stage terror attacks in their home country as the Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB), the city state said on Tuesday, the second group of Bangladeshis investigated in the past six months.
The men, aged 26 to 34, were working in Singapore’s construction and marine industries, the government said in a statement. At least two more members in the group were in Bangladesh, it added.
“ISB poses a security concern to Singapore because of its support for ISIS and its readiness to resort to the use of violence overseas,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said, referring to Islamic State.
The men were detained in April under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, the government said. It was not immediately clear if or when they would be charged or deported. Singapore’s Straits Times called it the first detentions under the act involving a foreign workers’ cell.
The government of wealthy, multi-ethnic Singapore, which has not faced any militant attacks in decades, said investigations showed the ISB had identified several possible attack targets in Bangladesh.
Islamist militants in Bangladesh have targeted atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that date back to February 2015 and have claimed at least 20 lives. A Hindu tailor was hacked to death on Saturday.
The Islamic State and a group affiliated to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks. Bangladeshi police said home-grown militant group are responsible.
In January, Singapore said it had arrested 27 Bangladeshi construction workers who supported Islamist groups including al Qaeda and Islamic State and deported 26 of them.
Fourteen of the 26 have since been jailed in Bangladesh on “terror charges”, Bangladeshi police said, but denied they had any link to the Islamic State or al Qaeda.
The Singapore ministry said the eight detained men had intended to join Islamic State as foreign fighters. It provided photographs of the men, a bomb making manual and other documents it said the group had used.
The ministry said the men felt it would be difficult for them to make their way to Syria and focused instead on returning to Bangladesh to overthrow the government by force, and bring it under the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, the ministry said.
Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Nick Macfie