Singaporean who took part in Yemen civil war released from ISA detention

SINGAPORE (CNA) – A Singaporean man detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) two years ago for taking part in the Yemen civil war has been released and placed under a restriction order (RO), the Internal Security Department (ISD) said yesterday.

Sheik Heikel Khalid Bafana, 49, had volunteered to take up arms and worked as a paid agent for a “foreign power” by collecting intelligence on Yemen. He was placed under the RO in March, ISD said.

Individuals on RO cannot travel out of Singapore or change addresses or jobs without approval.

They cannot issue public statements, address public meetings or print, distribute or contribute to any publication without approval.

The ISD usually releases detainees under the ISA and issues them with ROs after they show good progress in rehabilitation, and are assessed to no longer pose a security threat requiring preventive detention.

Heikel, who was in Yemen from 2008 to 2019, ran a consultancy there that advised foreign companies on security risks and business opportunities. He had stayed on in the country even as the security situation deteriorated and Singaporeans were evacuated.

Heikel came to the ISD’s attention while he was still in Yemen, after he made social media posts suggesting that he was involved in the armed conflict there. This included a photograph of himself in military gear with a submachine gun.

He was arrested under the ISA after he returned to Singapore on February 5, 2019.