Singapore: Four radicalised Bangladeshi supporters of the Islamic State terror group were convicted on Tuesday by a Singapore court for raising finances to launch terror attacks back home, becoming the first to be prosecuted under the country's tough terrorism act.
The four men — Rahman Mizanur, Miah Rubel, Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader — pleaded guilty to one and two counts each of providing or collecting hundreds of dollars.
The convicts, employed in the local construction and marine industries, face up to 10 years in jail and are expected to be sentenced on 21 June.
Ringleader Mizanur, 31, pleaded guilty to two of four charges against him. The remaining two charges will be taken into consideration during sentencing, according to a Channel News Asia report.
The four were part of a group of six charged under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (TSOFA) — this is the first time the Act has been used for prosecution.
Mizanur had set up the group called Islamic State in Bangladesh, in March this year after developing a "liking" for the dreaded Islamic State terror group.
The court heard that Mizanur had tried to join Islamic State three times, but was unable to obtain a visa allowing him to travel to Turkey and Algeria. He travelled to Singapore to find work instead, and recruited his five co-accused, four of whom pleaded guilty alongside him.
The prosecution said that Mizanur's dream was still to join Islamic State and become a fighter to destroy disbelievers' activities through an armed struggle. The group met regularly to discuss waging an armed jihad to fight against non-believers.
They agreed that when they returned to Bangladesh, they would "find and kill" non-believers, the prosecution told the court. In January this year, the four had taken an oath that they would follow Abu Bakar al-Bagdadi, the leader of Islamic State, until their deaths, the court heard.
Another accused Zzaman Daulat, who was also part of the group charged last week, denied the charges against him.
Daulat, who was the "security council" of the group, said he did not know the money he contributed would be used for terrorism activities.
"I contributed Singapore dollar 200 but I did not know how the money would be spent. I did not know the money would be spent for terrorism," Daulat told court via an interpreter.
The men had intended to join Islamic State as foreign fighters, but upon realising it would be difficult to travel to Syria, focused their plans closer to home, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said.
Based on investigations, the group had identified several possible attack targets in Bangladesh, and possessed documents on weapons and bomb-making, as well as ISIS and al Qaeda radical material, it said.
The group had also planned to recruit other Bangladeshi nationals working in Singapore, it added.
A sixth man – Mamun Leakot Ali, who took over as leader of the group after Mizanur was arrested in March – had denied the charges against him at a hearing last week.
If found guilty of financing terrorism, the men could be jailed up to 10 years, fined up to Singapore dollars 500,000 per charge, or both. Another two men, Sohag Ibrahim and Islam Shariful, both 24, will be dealt with separately.
They were listed as witnesses in the case this morning against the five men.
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Updated Date: May 31, 2016 16:14:27 IST