Internal Security Department (Singapore)
|Formed||17 February 1966|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Singapore|
|Headquarters||New Phoenix Park, 30 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore|
|Parent agency||Ministry of Home Affairs|
The Internal Security Department (ISD) is a domestic intelligence agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore. It has the utmost right to detain without trial individuals suspected to be a threat to national security.
The stated mission is to confront and address security threats, including international terrorism, foreign subversion and espionage. The ISD also monitors and addresses potential threats from communism, prevention of racial tension which might affect the public peace, domestic counterterrorism, international counterterrorism, fraud against the state, surveillance, apprehension of suspected militants or terrorists and protection of Singapore's national borders.
ISD was first established as part of the Special Branch in 1948 by the British colonial government. In 1963, it became part of the Malaysian Special Branch when Singapore joined Malaysia. After Singapore gained independence, Internal Security Department was formally established on 17 February 1966. It was formerly part of the Ministry of Interior and Defence until it was split on 11 August 1970.
The powers of investigation and arrest of the ISD are regulated by several laws, including:
- Criminal Procedure Code
- Official Secrets Act
- Internal Security Act
- Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act
These events are related to ISD and internal security of Singapore.
- 1950, Maria Hertogh riots.
- 1963, arrest of left-wing politicians and trade unionists during Operation Coldstore.
- 1964, 21 July – 8 September, race riots, took place on Muhammad's birthday.
- 1965, 10 March, MacDonald House bombing by Indonesian saboteurs killed three people, during the konfrontasi period.
- 1966, arrest of 22 members of Barisan Sosialis.
- 1969, communal clashes spillover from the 13 May incident.
- 1974, 31 January, Laju incident, the Japanese Red Army bombed petroleum tanks at Pulau Bukom and hijacked a ferry boat.
- 1982, uncovered Singapore People's Liberation Organisation activities.
- 1982, two Soviet spies, Anatoly Alexeyevich Larkin and Alexander Alexandrovich Bondarev, exposed for espionage activities.
- 1985, local network of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam uncovered.
- 1987, arrest of 22 alleged pro-Marxist activists during Operation Spectrum.
- 1991, four Pakistanis hijacked Singapore Airlines Flight 117.
- 1997, 1998, six arrested for involvement in espionage and foreign subversive activities.
- 2001, 9 December, members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) arrested for bomb plots on the American, Australian, British and Israeli embassies.
- 2008, 27 February, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, alleged leader of JI's Singapore branch, escaped while under the ISD's custody.
- 2009, 1 April, the Malaysian authorities captured Mas Selamat in Skudai, Johor.
- 2010, 8 February, the ISD summoned Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism over video clips posted on the church website that were deemed 'highly inappropriate and unacceptable' as they "trivialised and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists".
- 2021, 27 January, the ISD reported it had arrested a 16-year old Protestant youth under the Internal Security Act in November 2020 for plotting to attack two Singaporean mosques on the anniversary of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. The youth had written a manifesto praising the perpetrator Brenton Tarrant as a "saint" and describing the Christchurch mosque shootings as the "justifiable killing of Muslims." The teenage is the youngest person and the first far right extremist to be detained under the ISA.
- 2021, 29 January, Yeo Jun Wei, was detained by the ISD for investigations into engaging in "activities prejudicial to Singapore’s security".
- 2021, 10 March, the ISD reported that it had detained a 20-year old national serviceman named Amirull Ali in February 2021 under the Internal Security Act for plotting to attack three Jewish worshippers at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue out of sympathy for the Palestinians. Ali also reportedly planned to travel to Gaza to join Hamas' military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
The identity of ISD's director is not conspicuously made known to the public, until he relinquishes the post. Many of ISD's former directors went on to take up higher offices, including:
- ?-1974: Yoong Siew Wah (head, then director from 1971)
- 1974–?: Wang Hsu Chih (acting director)
- 1975–1982: Lim Chye Heng (acting director, then director)
- 1982–1986: Eddie Teo, currently Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA)
- 1986–1993: Tjong Yik Min
- 1993–1997: Chiang Chie Foo, currently chairman of the Central Provident Fund Board
- 1997–2003: Benny Lim Siang Hoe, currently Permanent Secretary for National Development
- ?-2010: Pang Kin Keong, became Permanent Secretary (Law) afterwards, followed up by Permanent Secretary (Transport) from 2012 to 1 Sep 2017, currently Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs)
- Sep 2010 - Mar 2016: Loh Ngai Seng, also Second Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs) from 1 Jan 2016 to 1 Sep 2017, currently Permanent Secretary (Transport)
- 2016-?: Tai Wei Shyong, serving as Deputy Attorney-General from 1 January 2021 onwards
- Security and Intelligence Division, the external intelligence agency
- Lee Kuan Yew. (1998). The Singapore Story. Federal Publications. ISBN 0-13-020803-5
- Mathew Jones, "Creating Malaysia: Singapore Security, the Borneo Territories and the Contours of British Policy, 1961–1963" in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 28, No. 2, May 2000. pp. 85–109
- "SOC Listing of Foreign Intelligence Services". Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "MINISTERIAL STATEMENT BY DR TONY TAN KENG YAM, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND CO-ORDINATING MINISTER FOR SECURITY AND DEFENCE ON STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR SINGAPORE'S NATIONAL SECURITY HELD ON TUESDAY, 20 JULY 2004 AT PARLIAMENT SITTING" (PDF). National Security Coordination Cent. Retrieved 20 September 2018.[permanent dead link]
- "About ISD". Internal Security Department. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- ""Countering Threats", Ministry of Home Affairs". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Mas Selamat was PLOTTING HITS ON S'PORE" (PDF). Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- ""Pastor called up by ISD", Straits Times". Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- Lim, Min Zhang (27 January 2021). "16-year old Singaporean detained under ISA for planning terror attacks on two mosques". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
- Mahmud, Aqil Haziq (27 January 2021). "16-year-old Singaporean detained under ISA after planning to attack Muslims at 2 mosques". Channel News Asia. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
- Baharuddin, Hariz (10 March 2021). "Singaporean youth detained under ISA for planning knife attack on Jews leaving synagogue". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
- Jaipragas, Bhavan (10 March 2021). "Singapore detains man who plotted knife attack on Jews; considers tighter security at places of worship". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
- "Suspect detained over planned attack on Singapore synagogue". Ynet. 10 March 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
- "Security chief upgraded to Director". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Transfer for ISD chief Yoong". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Head of ISDto give up job in October". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Chye Heng named ISD acting director". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "SPH appoints new director". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Former scholar is ISD head". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "ISD chief's new post". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "New director for Internal Security Dept". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Top civil servants move". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary Appointments". www.psd.gov.sg. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
- New appointments for other permanent secretaries, The Straits Times, 13 August 2010
- "Press Release – Mr Loh Ngai Seng to be appointed Second Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs)". www.psd.gov.sg. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
- hermesauto (8 December 2015). "Internal Security chief takes on second role".
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