Terrorist recruitment fails in Singapore, prime minister says

Sunday, October 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Authorities uncovered a plot by a Middle Eastern terrorist group to recruit Singaporean Muslims to its ranks, the prime minister said Sunday, warning that terrorists were seeking to increase operations in the region.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said the Internal Security Department discovered the plot last year and also found a video of the coastline made by another terrorist group seeking to attack passing U.S. ships.

Goh did not identify the terrorist groups.

He said ``good sense prevailed'' among the five Singaporeans recruited and that ``they withdrew contact with the foreign operatives.''

Goh made the remarks to a meeting of 1,200 union leaders.

Singapore has strong military and economic ties with the United States. It is one of two ports in Southeast Asia where U.S. aircraft carriers can dock. It is also home to a U.S. Navy logistics unit.

The United States is also Singapore's biggest trading partner.

``Now that the military action against terrorism has started there is a danger that radical groups in our part of the world may mount attacks in the region to support Osama (bin Laden),'' Goh said.

The Prime Minister said bin Laden, the Saudi exile who is the prime suspect behind the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, is trying to turn the fight against terrorism into a war between Muslims and non-Muslims.

About 15 percent of the 4 million people in Singapore are Muslims, mostly Malays. The majority of people in the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state are ethnic Chinese, most of them Buddhists, Taoists or Christians.