Taxi and private-hire car drivers issued advisory on Afghanistan crisis

SINGAPORE – Taxi and private-hire drivers should not talk about or debate the crisis in Afghanistan with their passengers and colleagues, to avoid getting into situations where conversations may get heated.

They should also not make posts online or give comments regarding the situation that may incite violence or promote ill will.

These directives were part of an advisory to the drivers issued this month by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore Police Force and the Land Transport Authority.

The advisory warns that the developing violence and crisis in Afghanistan is worrying, and may pose a security threat.

“The situation in Afghanistan could inspire transnational terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to regroup and establish safe havens,” it said.

“Radicals from South-east Asia may also be inspired to travel to Afghanistan to take up arms with militant groups there, just as Jemaah Islamiah (JI) members had done so in the past.”

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said it works closely with different agencies to spread the counter-terrorism message to different segments of the community, including foreign workers and public transport workers.

“Taxi and private-hire drivers, as part of the community at large, are important partners in the Government’s counter-terrorism efforts,” it said.

“Such advisories on global security developments of interest, for example, the extremist propaganda of ISIS and developments in Afghanistan, help equip them to be alert towards suspicious persons and activities and alert the authorities early.”

The advisory added that Singapore does not tolerate any form of extremism or terrorism, and advised drivers not to support or import foreign politics into Singapore.

Those who wish to make donations to help victims should also do it through legitimate channels, and exercise caution, it said.

If caught donating to terrorist groups, they will be dealt with under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, and may be jailed and fined.

The ISD said there is currently no information of a specific terrorist threat to Singapore arising from the situation in Afghanistan.

It said it is watching ongoing developments closely and will calibrate its security posture to commensurate with the prevailing threats.

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The region’s largest terror attack, the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, were carried out by returnee fighters from Afghanistan, and at least 11 Singapore JI detainees were known to have attended military training in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

Upon their return, several were involved in terror plots, and a few collaborated with an Al-Qaeda operative on a plot to mount suicide truck-bomb attacks against Western embassies in Singapore.

The latest advisory also urges drivers to report any known individuals affected by the crisis to the authorities, and to approach their company for help if they themselves are affected and require counselling.

Suspicious activities and persons should be reported to the police at 1800-255-0000, or to the ISD at 1800-2626-473.

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