SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore on Wednesday said it had arrested and deported 26 Bangladeshi construction workers for forming a religious study group that spread the ideology of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
The workers were arrested in November and detained without trial under the city-state's rigorous Internal Security Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
It said they held discreet weekly meetings to share jihadi-related materials and discuss armed conflicts involving Muslims. It also said its members supported the teachings of U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011
The Bangladeshis' work passes had been revoked, it said. Twenty-six of them have been repatriated to Bangladesh, where authorities were informed of their circumstances.
A remaining Bangladeshi is currently serving a jail sentence for attempting to leave Singapore illegally after hearing about the arrests of the others. He will be repatriated once he finishes serving his sentence, the ministry said.
While they were not planning attacks in Singapore, an investigation showed that several of them had considered carrying out attacks overseas, the ministry said.
"A number of group members admitted that they subscribed to the belief that they should participate and wage armed jihad on behalf of their religion. Several of them contemplated travelling to and participating in armed jihad in the Middle East," a statement by the ministry said. "Several members also had a shared document containing graphic images and instruction details on how to conduct 'silent killings' using different methods and weapons."
The announcement of the arrests came after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack in Jakarta last Thursday that left four civilians and four attackers dead.
In September last year, Singapore said it was holding two of its citizens for attempting to make their way to Syria to join the militants.