Muslim community to work to guard against terrorism, Singapore minister says

Singapore's Muslim community is committed to defending the city-state against terrorist threats amid concern that an attack could stoke racial tension, a Cabinet minister said. "We will continue to do our best to protect Singapore from any threat. We will keep our house in order," local media quoted Yaacob Ibrahim, the minister in charge of Muslim affairs, as saying Wednesday.

Singapore's population is predominantly ethnic Chinese, with large Malay and Indian communities. Government leaders fear that any attack by Islamic militants could raise ethnic tensions, and wants to ensure that Muslims in Singapore are not subject to extremist teachings. "We cannot take our present harmonious relations for granted," Ibrahim said. "We cannot assume that if and when a bomb does explode here and lives are lost, our communal relations will not be affected significantly."

Singapore, a strong backer of U.S. efforts to fight terror, is concerned about threats from Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terror group linked to al-Qaida. Several years ago, Singapore arrested several dozen alleged Jemaah Islamiyah operatives accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy and other Western targets. Earlier this month, Singapore staged a large emergency exercise to test its readiness for terror attacks on its bus and subway systems. Singapore planned the drill following the attacks on the transport systems in London last year and in Madrid, Spain, in 2004, reports the AP. I.L.