SINGAPORE customs officers arrested eight Indonesian students early Wednesday morning after finding Islamic State-related materials stored in one of their mobile phones.
A source told Malaysian news agency Bernama that the group was detained by the Singaporean authorities at the Woodlands Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex at about 1.30am on Wednesday.
“During inspection, immigration personnel found images on Daesh (IS) militancy including that of a homemade bomb using a shoe in one of the suspects mobile phone,” the source was quoted as saying.
“The Singaporean authorities then placed the suspects under the ‘No Time Limit’ prohibited entry status into the republic before handing them over to Malaysian police for further investigation,” he added.
The Malaysian police interrogated the group for nearly seven hours after which they found that one of the suspects had obtained the IS images from a Whatsapp group, the source said.
“After the investigations, the suspects were deported to Batam, Indonesia by ferry before being detained by Indonesian National Police (INP) and Riau Police two hours later for follow-up investigations,” he said.
The students, who were reportedly from a religious school in West Sumatra, Indonesia, had been in Malaysia since Jan 3. One of them had sought medical treatment in the country.
The investigation also revealed that the group was in the northern state of Perlis four days later before going to Pattani, Thailand, on an excursion to learn about the education system in the province.
The source said the suspects returned to Malaysia on Monday before heading to enter Singapore via the Johor border.
In recent years, authorities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have heightened anti-terror security measures and laws to avert deadly attacks by international militant groups in wake of growing IS influence in the region.