Authorities have detained a 42-year-old local man for suspected links to ISIS, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a statement broadcast on Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) on Tuesday.
ISD said the suspect — who was not identified in the statement — provided financial contributions to an individual affiliated with ISIS and also planned to move his family over to Syria to live under the so-called ‘Islamic caliphate’.
The department added that its investigation revealed the suspect had become radicalised after learning about the ongoing Syrian civil war and reading ISIS propaganda that “deliberately misinterpreted Islamic teachings and the hadith”.
The man was “found to be highly obsessed with Daesh”, the ISD said, referring to the Arabic acronym for the terror group, and had pledged allegiance to its leader.
The man had allegedly shared ISIS propaganda materials with people around him, and also posted information about Brunei on social media aimed at attracting militants to the country.
“The government will not tolerate any element associated with extremism or terrorism,” the ISD said, adding that it will continue to cooperate with foreign security services to combat any risk to national security.
The department also warned the public to be aware of extreme or radical content online and to be cautious in offering assistance to individuals or organisations not sanctioned by local authorities.
The suspect is currently detained under section 3(a) of the Internal Security Act, which gives the State powers of preventative detention. Under the law, an individual can be held in custody for up to two years without trial in order to prevent that person from “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Brunei Darussalam”.
Last year, the Brunei authorities detained then deported four Indonesian nationals for links to terror suspects and possession of ISIS propaganda.
ISIS published the first edition of its Malay-language newspaper called Al Fatihin (The Conquerer) in 2016 in an attempt to expand its foothold in Southeast Asia. The publication is reportedly being distributed in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Security experts view the launch of Al Fatihin, which is available in print and online, as a strategic move to appeal to a larger Malay-speaking audience.
A deadly gun and suicide-bombing attack in Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2016 was the first ISIS-claimed assault in the region, while the Philippine city of Marawi was overrun last year by fighters loyal to the militants, triggering a months-long battle that killed hundreds.
At the opening of the ASEAN Summit last month, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Southeast Asia faces “very real” threats from ISIS despite their defeat in the Middle East.