Tell the authorities, father of radicalised woman tells parents

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SINGAPORE: The father of the first woman detained under Singapore’s Internal Security Act (ISA) says he should have reported her to the authorities.

Islamic religious teacher Syaikh Abdu Manaf Al Ansari told Singapore’s Berita Harian (BH) he should not have stopped at giving her advice after she started dressing differently and used the Islamic State (IS) flag as her WhatsApp profile picture.

In a statement yesterday, Singapore’s ministry of home affairs said Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, a mother of one, was detained earlier this month for radicalism.

The ministry said Izzah, an infant care assistant at a preschool, wanted to be a martyr’s widow for the IS and had planned to travel to Syria to join the militant group. The IS has threatened attacks against Singapore.

Manaf, 49, advised parents to watch their children carefully to prevent them from being radicalised by Islamic militants.

The BH quoted him as saying: “To other parents, this comes from the bottom of my heart. If you see any sudden changes, et cetera, contact the authorities. If not (the authorities), contact the Religious Rehabilitation Group,” he said.

The Straits Times quoted Manaf as telling BH on Monday that Izzah started dressing in black and wearing the niqab, a facial veil which reveals only the eyes, in late 2014.

She was also using the IS flag as her WhatsApp profile picture, he said.

The parents, who both teach the Quran, questioned Izzah about this.

“I asked if she was an ISIS (another name for IS) member. She denied it but said she thought ISIS was fighting for Islam,” Manaf was quoted as saying by BH.

“I told her all well-known Islamic scholars reject ISIS. I asked, is it halal in Islam to kill innocent people, children and women? I told her to show me evidence from the Quran and sunnah (prophetic teachings) that it is halal. She just kept silent.”

Subsequently, Izzah stopped wearing the niqab and started listening to music and watching movies again. The parents did not pursue the matter, thinking that their religious advice had worked.

“We thought she was okay. But we did not realise she had become more radical. She was smart at hiding herself,” he told BH.

After Izzah was detained, Manaf found documents in her room with information about moving to Syria, including how to get tickets.

Feeling angry, he threw the materials away. He told the authorities about this during the investigation, and was given a warning.

“This should not have happened. I really regret it,” he was quoted as saying.

Singapore detains first woman citizen suspected of Islamist radicalism