The boy purchased a tactical vest online and had intended to also buy a machete at the time of his arrest in December.

Street art adorn old conserved shophouses next to the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, Singapore, October 2, 2020.
Street art adorn old conserved shophouses next to the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, Singapore, October 2, 2020. (Reuters)

Singapore has detained a 16-year-old for intending to attack two mosques, plans authorities said were inspired by the killing of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.

The boy, an unnamed Christian of Indian ethnicity, had purchased a tactical vest online and had intended to also buy a machete at the time of his arrest in December, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a statement on Wednesday.

He had conducted reconnaissance of the mosques near his home, intended to livestream his attack and prepared statements that referenced Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant who is serving life imprisonment for killing 51 Muslim worshippers and injuring dozens of others on March 15, 2019.

"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," the ISD said, adding he planned to carry out the attack on the anniversary of the Christchurch killings.

READ MORE: Christchurch attack: New Zealand intel agencies mostly focused on Muslims 

Internal Security Act

The boy is the youngest person to be detained under Singapore's colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows authorities to detain anyone seen as a threat to security for up to two years.

It was not immediately clear for how long the 16-year-old would be detained. Home Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday that he would be given psychological counselling and will be able to continue his education while in detention but may not face criminal charges.

"It would be said in a court of law, that he was only thinking about it. He has planned it, but he hasn't actually taken a step yet. 

So, in many countries, without laws similar to the Internal Security Act, you can't move early until there is some further act of preparation," Shanmugam told local broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia.

READ MORE: Families deliver powerful speeches at Christchurch attacker's hearing

First case of right-wing extremists

Home Minister K Shanmugam also said it was worrying as it marked the first case of right-wing extremists targeting Muslims in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

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

Giving further details, the department statement said the teen had explored various options, including obtaining a firearm online, building a bomb and using gasoline to douse the mosques. He later decided to use a machete and had studied how to slash the main arteries of his victims.

One of the statement he prepared referred to his planned attacks as a “massacre,” an “act of vengeance” and a “call for war” against Islam, authorities said.

Another was a manifesto similar to the one written by the Christchurch gunman, who the teen referred to as a “saint."

The department said the teen was ready to die during the attack.

The department said that the teen's family and others close to him had no idea about his plans nor his hatred for Islam.

“This case demonstrates yet again that extreme ideas can find resonance among and radicalise Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion," the department said.

READ MORE: New Zealand mosque attacker fires lawyers to represent himself at hearing

Source: Reuters