According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 44-year-old Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff became radicalised as early as 2001 after reading jihadi-related material.
He was supportive of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Jemaah Islamiyah, and advocated Muslims taking up arms in Afghanistan after the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, and in other places across the Middle East, Palestinian territories, Myanmar and the Philippines.
To motivate Muslims to engage in armed jihad, Zulfikar proposed the creation of a support system for the families of the fighters.
Before he was arrested, he made “numerous Facebook postings glorifying and promoting ISIS and their violent actions, while exploiting religion to legitimise the terrorist activities of ISIS”.
This included a photograph of himself with his children mimicking a pose commonly adopted by jihadi fighters, while standing in front of a black flag that is commonly used by jihadi terrorist groups.
Zulfikar claims to be a PhD student at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
He moved to Australia with his family in 2002 and joined the hardline Hizbut Tahrir organisation.
There, he was also influenced by the teachings of radical ideologues like Anwar al-Awlaki, and established and maintained contact with radical preachers in Australia and overseas, like Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary.
He also set up an online group called Al-Makhazin and other Facebook platforms for Muslims to counter the Western media.
Zulkifar admitted that a Facebook page called Al-Makhazin Singapore was used by him as a platform to “agitate on Muslim issues in Singapore and attack some Singaporean Muslims who did not share his views”.
Said the MHA:
“His real agenda was in fact to provoke Muslims in Singapore into pushing for the replacement of the democratic system with an Islamic state in Singapore. He said that he hid his ulterior motive from the Singaporean Al-Makhazin Singapore members.”
Singaporeans that Zulkifar radicalised was Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidik, who has since been detained, and Mohamed Saiddhin Abdullah, who was issued with a Restriction Order for two years in July.
Saiddhin was convinced by Zulfikar’s positive portrayal of ISIS and later started reposting Zulfikar’s postings on ISIS as a form of jihad.
Commenting on the arrests, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said that self-radicalised Singaporeans are a “stark reminder” that the risks to the nation’s society are real and “reflect the open and porous nature of the Internet which allows terrorist ideologies to infiltrate”.