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Australian arrested over radical ideology

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016

Singaporean authorities have arrested an Australian resident for spreading radical ideology linked to terrorism on Facebook.

Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, 44, was arrested in July for spreading radical ideology that promoted and glorified terror group Islamic State, the country's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

The Singaporean government has ordered Shariff be detained for two years.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs says Shariff left Singapore and resettled his family in Australia in 2002.

"While in Australia, he continued to pursue radical ideology," they said.

Shariff joined the hardline Hizbut Tahrir organisation and was also influenced by the teachings of Yemeni man Anwar al-Awlaki.

The 44-year-old also established and maintained contact with radical Islamic preachers in Australia like Musa Cerantonio, from Melbourne.

Cerantonio was among five men arrested near Cairns in May towing a boat en route to Cape York as part of an alleged plan to travel by boat to Indonesia and then on to Syria to join IS fighters.

Singaporean authorities say Shariff supports terrorism and has admitted using social media to spread his radical beliefs to other Singaporeans.

"He made numerous Facebook postings glorifying and promoting ISIS and their violent actions."

Shariff also set up online groups calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate while residing in Australia.

It's unclear when the Australian resident returned to Singapore, but authorities say he actively tried to radicalise and persuade young Singaporeans into joining his extremist agenda.

Shariff also tried to hide his radical ideology.

"At times he has tried to hide his real motivations, by putting out moderate sounding views."

Singapore says it faces a high threat of terrorism and will take "firm and decisive" action against anyone who engages in activities that threaten the country.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment on Shariff's case.

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