Extremism has evolved throughout times, although the brutality of the fact has remained pretty much constant throughout the years. The ideology that one possesses can lead to them believing so deeply in their cause that they would perform acts viewed as immoral to the public. This can also be considered terrorism depending on the observer’s values and moral scope throughout the world.
The acts that they have committed are often times employed in a violent manner, with a preferred target for civilians and people with no relation to the matter. Extremism is not strictly confined to religious view or even Muslims as many would like to think, solely because it is a matter of ideology and not limited to a way of thinking. It is only in recent times where the emergence of prominent groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took worldwide coverage due to their strong presence on social media. What many of us may not realise is that extremism has been around in many countries around the world, except that the media coverage on them are often limited and the public are desensitised. An example would be the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines where they have waged an ongoing conflict for more than a century.
Of course, with the proliferation of technology in the 21st century, the ground of warfare has changed and recruitment into extremism could not have become any easier. A brilliant example would be the rise of ISIS from 2012. This militant group was known for their extreme brutality that even al-Qaida’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri disavowed them. Getting their riches from the oil fields in eastern Syria, the group took advantage of their financial assets and social media by propagating their ideology through the internet.
With the power of their message now spread loosely over the internet, ISIS posed a new threat to the world – radicalisation. The problem with previous groups of extremist were that they strictly adhered to hierarchy. With that being said, the military could easily wipe out the top leadership and the underlings would be lost, without someone to lead them. However, with ISIS, individuals could be radicalised through their very own computers at home, and thus are able to carry out unsupervised attacks without orders. These has led to huge unsupervised attacks across countries where Muslims have been radicalised such as Malaysia and Indonesia, threatening national security.
Although Singapore is a multi-ethnic society, the reason why extremist groups like ISIS are unable to get a hold on the citizens is because of the strict policies that the government has enforced. Forbiddance of denigration of religion for one censors any form of disrespect that the citizens may intend to commit, and religious enclaves are non-existent. In addition to this, it is safe to say that the citizens which are largely self-sustained and doing well see no need in disrupting their daily lives for the sake of a “higher religious calling”. Thankfully, continued efforts by the coordinating ministries and security agencies have ensured that potential targets of radicalisation are identified in the early stages and subdued before any real damage can be done.