Friday, March 5, 2010

Low Crime is not "No Crime"

Singapore ups security measures after terror warning
Saturday, March 6,2010.

Singapore ups security measures after terror warning
SINGAPORE – Singapore has raised security alert levels following threats of possible terrorist attacks on ships in the busy Malacca Strait waterway, the country's interior minister said Friday.

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng told parliament that security measures throughout the city-state have been beefed up after authorities received a tip-off that a militant group was planning to attack oil tankers.

"Basically, all alert levels have been raised, not just for ships, but also for the security measures that we have undertaken for Singapore," Wong said in response to a question in parliament about the security threats.

The Singapore Shipping Association issued an advisory to members on Thursday that an unidentified terrorist group plans to attack ships in a shipping lane through which almost a third of world trade passes.

"We received intelligence from our liaison partners about this possible plot to attack vessels coming through Singapore waters through the Strait of Malacca," Wong told parliament.

"As a result, the various security agencies have been working very closely with one another, including the RSN (Republic of Singapore Navy) and also our foreign liaison partners.

"We have also worked very closely with the shipping community."

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which share the waterway, said they would step up patrols in the Malacca Strait after the warning.

Isa Munir, a top Malaysian marine police officer, has confirmed that authorities received information indicating that Islamic militants were plotting to wreak "havoc" in the Malacca Strait.

He said Friday that 11 Malaysian patrol ships have been put to sea to secure the waterway and that his country was working with its neighbours.

"We are coordinating patrols. We are communicating with Indonesia and Singapore," he said, adding that the "situation is under control."

Analysts have said that the Malacca Strait is a prime target because more than 30 percent of global trade and half the world's oil shipments pass through the narrow waterway.

Blowing up oil tankers could choke the strategic passageway and cripple global trade.

Wong said that despite improvements in security systems, extremists have also evolved. Singapore is continually reviewing security measures at its checkpoints, international airport and at sea, he said.

Checks at Changi Airport were stepped up in the aftermath of the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit on Christmas day last year, he said.

"The threat of terrorism remains real in our region. And so it remains real for Singapore too. We are an open society and cannot insulate ourselves from the security situation in our region or other parts of the world," Wong said.

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