Singapore disclosed Wednesday it arrested 27 Bangladeshi construction workers late last year for supporting “the armed jihad ideology” of militants like the Islamic State group, and deported 26 of them. The workers were being groomed to return to their home country to wage holy war and had studied booklets on assassination techniques, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. “They were plotting nefarious activities in Bangladesh and other countries, and not in Singapore. But they were still a serious threat to us,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post late Wednesday. “We are tightening up our security, and acting to protect our racial and religious harmony. Radicalisation and terrorism must never take root in Singapore.”

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in an earlier Facebook post that the workers “could have easily changed their minds and attacked Singapore”.
Several members of the group also contemplated joining “armed jihad” with the IS group in Iraq and Syria, according to the MHA. “They supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the ministry said in the statement.

The 27 men, aged between 25 and 40, were arrested between November 16 and December 1 last year under Singapore’s Internal Security Act.