The ongoing fight against ISIS-linked militants in the southern Philippines city of Marawi seems to have no end in sight. It has already claimed more than 400 lives so far. The fight against terror is not just confined to the Philippines.
A number of countries have deemed it important enough to contribute their troops to the effort. Singapore has also offered its help, in the form of offering humanitarian supplies for evacuees, use of its urban training facilities and a detachment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to enhance their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The offer of help has been accepted in principle and implementation details are being worked out.
The issue was mentioned in Parliament on 1 Aug by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in response to Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh’s question. Ng noted that in Marawi, foreign fighters from countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chechnya were reported to be fighting there, adding that, “If these terrorist cells entrench deeper in Mindanao or any part of ASEAN, they will launch attacks against our people in Singapore and other cities in the region.”
That is the real worry facing all the countries in the region. A hotbed of terror is fermenting in everybody’s backyard. It would be foolish to turn a blind eye or pretend that it will not affect us. There is no other reminder needed that the terror threat facing Singapore is very real indeed. In fact, it was reported that a body of a Singaporean fighter was recovered in Marawi. That fighter could have returned to Singapore and hatched a terror plot.
There seems to be a sense of complacency creeping into Singaporeans that a terror attack will not happen to us. That is the conundrum we face – that until we are hit with a terror attack and see blood for ourselves, the threat will never truly hit home. The Siege of Marawi is surely proof enough that terror is at our doorstep.