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    Aug 05, 2016

    S'pore a target of ISIS anyway: PM Lee

    SINGAPORE is a target for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) regardless of its participation in the United States-led coalition against the militant group, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday.

    He was explaining that the decision to send a medical team to contribute to the effort against ISIS was made with Singapore's own interests in mind.

    Speaking to Singapore reporters as he wrapped up an official visit to the US capital, he dismissed the notion that Singapore's increased contribution would make it more of a target.

    "We are a target of ISIS anyway. The JI (Jemaah Islamiah) were looking for us before we did anything and before we knew they existed," he said.

    "If they see Indonesia and Malaysia as legitimate targets, all the more Singapore, (which) is a rational, open, cosmopolitan country, and not what they think countries should be, and therefore should be attacked. So do not think that by lying low, we are not going to be a target."

    Mr Lee announced at a joint press conference with President Barack Obama on Tuesday that Singapore will be sending a medical team to contribute to the effort against ISIS.

    Singapore has had detachments in the Middle East at different times since 2014. It has deployed Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) liaison officers, intelligence fusions officers, an imagery analysis team and an RSAF KC-135 tanker to support air-to-air refuelling operations.

    The Ministry of Defence said the deployment will be similar to previous SAF medical deployments during Operation Blue Ridge in Afghanistan.

    The SAF will first send a needs assessment and survey team before determining the size of the support team.

    As PM Lee explained in the interview: "We will send a team, we will go and recce, understand the circumstances, understand how best we can work and whom we are working with and then we will see how we will do it.

    "But we will do it."

    Apart from the contribution to the effort against ISIS, the joint statement released after PM Lee met President Obama in the Oval Office also mentioned that the Singapore Air Force was exploring the possibility of training in the Pacific island of Guam, a US territory that is home to the US Andersen Air Force Base.

    Mr Lee said those discussions were still in the preliminary stages.