Singapore border guard arrested for Syria 'jihad' plans

Singapore (AFP) - A Muslim border security officer in Singapore has been arrested for planning to fight in Syria, officials said Tuesday.

Muhammad Khairul bin Mohamed, 24, an unarmed traffic officer working at the crossing with Malaysia, was arrested under the Internal Security Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

The act allows for detention without trial for up to two years.

"Through prolonged exposure to online materials on the Syrian conflict, Khairul perceived the Syrian conflict to be a 'holy war' in which he was prepared to die in battle as a 'martyr'," the statement said.

"He developed the view that the conflict in Syria was a sectarian struggle between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, and being a Sunni Muslim, he wanted to fight against the Shi?ites in Syria by joining the Free Syrian Army (FSA)," the statement said.

A colleague who knew of Khairul's plans has been put under a travel restriction order after failing to report him to superiors.

Last week Singapore said it had arrested a young mother who wanted to marry an Islamic State group fighter in Syria.

Largely ethnic Chinese Singapore, which has close security ties with the United States and has a large Muslim minority, considers itself a prime target for extremist attack.

Southeast Asia has been on alert in recent weeks following the takeover of portions of Marawi city in the southern Philippines by militants flying the black flags of IS.