In Dec 2022, Muhammad Irfan Danyal Mohamad Nor, a self-radicalised 18-year-old Singaporean, was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The student made plans to take part in armed violence in Singapore and abroad to show support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
This included stabbing non-believers in dark alleys, attacks at an army camp, and a mosque’s gravesite.
The Internal Security Department (ISD) arrested him days before he had hoped to pledge his allegiance to the ISIS leader.
Irfan’s radicalisation began in 2020, when he came across YouTube videos by foreign extremist preacher Zakir Naik.
He later watched videos of other foreign extremist preachers like Ahmed Deedat.
Irfan also participated in discussions online, where he gained exposure to ISIS propaganda and developed an interest and admiration for fighters their videos featured.
In late 2021, he began taking photos of himself with a ski mask on and his index finger pointing up.
This mimicked ISIS fighters he had seen online who were representing the concept of tawhid.
The hand sign apparently symbolises the Islamic theological concept of the oneness of God.
From then on, Irfan wanted to live in an Islamic caliphate under shariah or Islamic law.
He hoped to establish an Islamic caliphate in Singapore and recruit Muslims to join it.
Taking inspiration from the flag of Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organisation Tahrir al-Sham in Syria, Irfan designed his own flag.
He planted the flag at Coney Island on 9 Aug 2022, Singapore’s National Day. The teen claimed that his was the start of his own caliphate which he named “Islamic State of Singhafura”.
Irfan uploaded pictures of the flag on an Instagram account and encouraged others to join.
By Oct 2022, he wanted to travel to Nigeria to join the armed violence with the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Believing he would achieve martyrdom, he was ready to die fighting on the battlefield.
Alternatively, Irfan wanted to travel to Iraq, Syria, or Marawi in the Philippines to fight.
He searched flights from Singapore to these locations and planned to travel there after saving up.
In the meantime, he planned to film a video of himself taking the ba’iah, a pledge of allegiance, to then ISIS leader Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.
He believed ba’iah meant he had to carry out ISIS’ instructions, including attacks in Singapore.
Irfan planned to film his ba’iah at Coney Island while wearing his NCC uniform and self-made ISIS headband, and while carrying his flag, and toy rifle on the weekend of 12 Nov. He tried to mimic ISIS fighters he had seen online.
The 18-year-old also intended to declare Coney Island an ISIS wilayat or province. He hoped that ISIS would recognise it as an official affiliate.
Irfan believed that it was his religious obligation to spread ISIS’s radical ideology.
He planned to upload his ba’iah to various social media platforms to help galvanise support for ISIS.
Besides that, he wanted to recruit an army of 100 to 500 fighters to aid in his Singapore attacks.
According to ISD, Irfan formulated at least three attack plans in Singapore.
Firstly, he planned to stab and kill “disbelievers” by ambushing them in dark alleys. He identified such individuals as:
In preparation, he purchased a knife from a convenience store in August 2022.
Next, he aspired to carry out a mass-casualty attack against the Amoy Quee Camp, where the NCC Headquarters is.
Familiar with the location from his NCC days, he wanted to recruit a suicide bomber who would mount a car bombing at the camp’s gate.
He intended to lead his ISIS army to attack guards at the gate with axes and knives before stealing firearms.
Thirdly, Irfan considered a bomb attack on Keramat Habib Noh at Haji Muhammad Salleh Mosque. He believed the gravesite – decorated and not at ground level – was “un-Islamic”.
To do this, he downloaded a C4 bomb-making manual online.
There were no timeline for these attacks at the point of his arrest.
To date, ISD’s investigations indicate that Irfan acted alone. There was no evidence showing that he was successful in recruiting or radicalising others.
His family was also apparently unaware of his attack plans here and overseas.
ISD stressed that they will take action against any individual in Singapore who promotes, supports, undertakes, or makes preparations to undertake armed violence.
This is regardless of how they rationalise such violence or where it takes place.
In Irfan’s case, he was deeply radicalised, so much so that he was prepared to undertake armed violence in Singapore and overseas. He was ready to kill and die for ISIS’ cause.
The ISD arrested Irfan days before he intended to film his bai’ah to ISIS and declare Coney Island an ISIS wilayat.
They assessed that he had become an imminent security threat and detained him under the ISA.
Irfan’s case highlights the continuing appeal of ISIS’ violent ideology. It underscores the trend of youth radicalisation and the threat of lone-actor attacks in recent years.
In the past two years, the ISD has detained three self-radicalised youths.
They thus urge the public to remain vigilant of the signs that someone around them may have become radicalised.
Those who suspect such a case can contact the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline at 1800-2626-473.
Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image adapted from Internal Security Department and Google Maps.
The woman also questioned the staff's work pass.
90% of Singapore employees responsible for engineering and product development were affected.
Father of the xiao long bao.
Get one for yourself and one for a friend – or two for yourself, we…
Asking the important questions.
The pile caps form the foundation of the RTS Link rail viaduct.