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Singapore ‘won’t cop idiots’: Australia welcomes city state barring former terror suspect ahead of Trump-Kim summit

The city state has been stepping up security in the run-up to Tuesday’s meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 8:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 9:30pm

Singapore said Thursday that it had refused to allow an Australian once tried on terrorism charges to enter the city state due to his history of extremism and sent him home to Sydney.

Zaky Mallah was denied entry to Singapore on Wednesday as it prepares to host a historic meeting next week between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that the 34-year-old was denied entry “on account of his terrorism-related antecedents”.

The ministry referred to Mallah in 2003 as becoming the first person charged under new Australian counterterrorism laws with planning a suicide attack on the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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He was acquitted in 2005 of charges of preparing a terrorist act, but received a 2 ½-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to threatening violence against Australian government officials, the statement said.

The ministry also mentioned reports that Mallah had travelled to Syria and that he expressed support for al-Qaeda affiliated groups and the Free Syrian Army.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton welcomed his deportation, saying Singapore “won’t cop idiots” like Mallah.

Mallah alerted Australia’s Seven Network television to his predicament from Changi Airport before authorities confiscated his phone.

“They asked me a lot of questions about my history, my dealings with the Australian government, ASIO, my trip to Turkey, Syria,” he said after arriving on a flight from Sydney.

“They asked me if I was in Syria … fighting, more or less,” he added.

Mallah told Seven that the Singaporeans considered him a security threat ahead of the US-North Korean summit, and interrogated him for five hours.

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The last time Mallah was in the public spotlight was when he appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A programme in 2015, questioning then-parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister, Steve Ciobo, about his acquittal.

“I had done and said some stupid things, including threatening to kidnap and kill, but in 2005 I was acquitted of those terrorism charges,” Mallah told Ciobo, according to the ABC.

“What would have happened if my case had been decided by the minister himself and not the courts?”

Ciobo said on the programme that he thought Mallah was “acquitted on a technicality” and that he would “sleep very soundly” if Mallah had been kicked out of the country.

“My understanding of your case was that you were acquitted because at that point in time the laws weren’t retrospective,” he said.

“But I’m happy to look you straight in the eye and say that I’d be pleased to be part of the Government that would say that you were out of the country.

“I would sleep very soundly at night with that point of view.”

Additional reporting by Edouard Morton