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Singaporean teen accused of planning terrorist attacks was inspired by Christchurch mosque gunman

Associated Press
·2-min read
The teen planned to attack mosques in Singapore - AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim
The teen planned to attack mosques in Singapore - AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim

Authorities in Singapore have detained without trial a 16-year-old student who made detailed plans and preparations to carry out "terrorist attacks" on two mosques with a machete.

The Singaporean teen was inspired by an Australian white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, the Internal Security Department said on Wednesday.

The teen, an ethnic Indian Christian who wasn't named because he is underage, was "self-radicalised, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence", the department said in a statement.

The teen detained in December was the youngest terror suspect to be held under the country's Internal Security Act.

The department said its investigation found the boy was working alone and had planned to strike two mosques near his home on March 15, the second anniversary of the Christchurch attack.

Just like the gunman in that attack, he planned to livestream his act by strapping mobile phones to a vest, the statement said. It said he also prepared two statements to be distributed just before the attack.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam was quoted by local media as saying that authorities do not intend to charge the teen because he was underage and hadn't carried out the act. But he said it was worrying because it marked the first case of right-wing extremists targeting Muslims in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

Authorities said the teen will undergo a rehabilitation process involving religious, psychological and social counselling.

Giving further details, the department statement said the teen had explored various options including obtaining a firearm online, building a bomb and using gasoline to douse the mosques.

He later decided to use a machete and had studied how to slash the main arteries of his victims.

One of the statements he prepared referred to his planned attacks as a "massacre", an "act of vengeance" and a "call for war" against Islam, authorities said.

Another was a manifesto similar to the one written by the Christchurch gunman, who the teen referred to as a "saint".

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The department said the teen was ready to die during the attack.

The teen's family and others close to him had no idea about his plans or his hatred for Islam.

"This case demonstrates yet again that extreme ideas can find resonance among and radicalise Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion," the department said.