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Singapore teenager inspired by Christchurch massacre arrested for allegedly planning attack on mosques, authorities say


A 16-year-old who was arrested in Singapore for allegedly planning a terror attack on two mosques was inspired by the Australian who carried out the 2019 Christchurch massacre, authorities say.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs revealed on Thursday that the 16-year-old had been arrested over an alleged plot to attack two mosques on the anniversary of the Christchurch massacre in March.

“He was self-radicalised, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence,” the ministry said in a statement.

Described as “a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity”, the home affairs ministry said the boy was arrested in December and was the first person in Singapore to be detained for being “inspired by far-right extremist ideology”.

The Singapore teenager allegedly planned to target Assyafaah mosque and Yusof Ishak mosque with a machete, and according to authorities, had laid out detailed plans for the attacks.

Authorities said many of those plans closely mirrored the attack carried out by the Australian terrorist who killed 51 people and injured 40 others in a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.

In its statement the Singapore Home Affairs Ministry alleged the boy had “watched the livestreamed video of the terrorist attack on the two mosques in Christchurch” and had “read the manifesto of the Christchurch attacker”.

“Like [the Australian terrorist, Brenton] Tarrant, the youth intended to drive between the two attack sites, and therefore devised a plan to procure a vehicle to use during the attack,” the ministry’s statement said.

The teenager also allegedly bought a tactical vest online which he had “intended to adorn with rightwing extremist symbols” and had prepared two documents including one which had “borrowed heavily” from the document written by the Australian shooter.

The document is also alleged to have called the Australian terrorist a “saint” and described the attacks in Christchurch as a “justifiable killing of Muslims”. According to the ministry the teenager had also planned to livestream the alleged attack and had considered “mimicking” other elements of the Christchurch attack.

“It was clear from the attack plans and preparations that this youth was influenced by Tarrant’s actions and manifesto,” the ministry said.

The ministry alleged that he had also watched Islamic State propaganda video and “came to the erroneous conclusion that Isis represented Islam, and that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers”.

“The detailed planning and preparation attests to the youth’s determination to follow through with his attack plan,” the home affairs ministry said.

“He admitted during the investigation that he could only foresee two outcomes to his plan – that he is arrested before he is able to carry out the attacks, or he executes the plan and is thereafter killed by the police.

“ISD’s investigation to-date indicates that the youth had acted alone. There was also no indication that he had tried to influence anyone with his extreme outlook or involve others in his attack plans. His immediate family and others in his social circles were not aware of his attack plans and the depth of his hatred for Islam.”

Law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam was quoted by local media as saying that authorities do not intend to charge the teen as he was underage and hadn’t carried out the act. But he said it was worrying as it marked the first alleged case of rightwing extremists targeting Muslims in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

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

Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a New Zealand court in August last year. A royal commission into the terror attack released in December last year revealed Tarrant had been active in far-right groups in Australia but escaped the attention of authorities.

Since the Christchurch shooting a series of far-right terrorists have claimed inspiration from the Australian, including a man who allegedly shot at least 20 people in a Walmart in El Paso and the attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California, both in 2019.



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