A Singapore court has jailed two Bangladeshis, detained in April, for financing terrorism after detaining them in April on suspicion of planning attacks in their home country.
Mamun Leakot Ali, 29 and Zzaman Daulat, 34, were the last to be sentenced on Tuesday of six Bangladeshis who were charged with contributing money for attacks in Bangladesh. The other four were jailed
for between two and five years, reports Reuters.
The group called themselves the Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB) and were collecting or providing money to fund terrorist attacks back home.
Mamun, who contributed S$800 towards financing militant activities, was jailed for two and a half years while Zzaman, who contributed S$200, got two years. The two pleaded guilty after earlier denying the charges.
The sentences were part of the city-state's first ever case of "financing terrorism" and there were no indications the men had planned to carry out attacks in Singapore.
Read More: Four Bangladeshis convicted in Singapore
Bangladesh, a deeply religious but mostly moderate Muslim-majority country of 160m people, has faced a series of militant attacks over the past year, the most serious on July 1 when gunmen stormed a restaurant at a upscale area in the capital Dhaka, and killed 20 people, most of them foreigners.
A Dhaka Tribune investigation in Singapore last week found that radical Islamist propaganda books were being distributed among Bangladeshi expat workers there that pushed young men towards jihad.
In July, Singapore arrested
Australia-based Hizb ut-Tahrir member Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, an expatriate Bangladeshi, and ordered him two years' jail for spreading radical Islamist ideology online and radicalising at least two other citizens. It is not clear if Shariff had re-established himself in Singapore or was visiting the country when he was arrested.
Bangladesh Police said most of those arrested in Singapore were followers of controversial Indian cleric Dr Zakir Naik, Peace TV anchor Abdur Razzak Bin Yusuf, Ansarullah Bangla Team's spiritual leader Jasim Uddin Rahmani and war crimes convict Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee,
Lawyers Noor Marican and Ramesh Tiwary represented Mamun and Zzaman pro bono, The Strait Times reports.
Addressing the court, Marican said both men were deeply apologetic to the people of Singapore for causing fear and harm through their actions. Pleading for a more lenient sentence, he added that both men had committed their crimes in a moment of foolishness, and were now deeply ashamed for bringing down the repute of Islam and other Muslims.
Speaking for both men, Marican said: "He is a Muslim, he believes in Islam, and he realises that these are not teachings of his religion ... It is not the way of Islam."
Other members of the gang
The four others convicted on July 12 are team leader Rahman Mizanur, 31; Miah Rubel, 26; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31; and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29.
Rahman was sentenced to 60 months in jail. Sohel was given 24 months while Miah and Jabath each got 30 months.
Prosecutors said the men – who pleaded guilty on May 31 – had contributed part of their salary to buy food, arms and weapons like knives and pistols to launch attacks in Bangladesh. The amounts ranged from 60 Singapore dollars ($42) to 1,360 Singapore dollars ($1,000).
Mamun was the group's deputy leader, while Zzaman was in the group's security council. Miah and Jabath acted as the group's treasurers.
They were part of a group detained in April under the country's Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial in cases where public safety is threatened.
Read More: 27 Bangladeshi Islamists arrested in Singapore, 26 deported
The Ministry of Home Affairs in Singapore has said the group's leader, Rahman Mizanur, possessed guides on making weapons and bombs, as well as radical material from the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda that he used to recruit the others.
Rahman, 31, pleaded guilty and was convicted of two charges of financing terrorism by inviting group members to contribute funds and handling the money to facilitate plans.
In sentencing Rahman to five years in jail, District Judge Kessler Soh emphasised that a deterrent sentence and "much stiffer punishment is warranted." "He was the mastermind. He was the one who started this whole outfit," the judge said.
Rahman had earlier addressed the court in English, putting forth a lengthy plea for mitigation. "I wanted to learn my religion. [My friends] showed me the wrong way, the wrong activities," Rahman said. "This is my very big mistake sir. I am very remorseful."
In January, Singapore said it had arrested and deported 26 Bangladeshi construction workers for forming a religious study group that spread the ideologies of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Their goal was to set up an Islamic state in Bangladesh and bring it under the self-declared caliphate of the IS.
The sentence of Zulfikar
Hizb ut-Tahrir member Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, 44, started the International Halal Management company in Melbourne’s north. Online, he claimed to be a PhD student and tutor of international relations at La Trobe University. He also worked as a marketing manager at a Muslim community co-operative, reports Australia-based Herald Sun. He made numerous Facebook posts that promoted and glorified terror group Islamic State and its violent actions.
Read More: Singapore arrests Facebook-based Tahrir preacher
He became a research fellow with Monash University, and led an organisation called the Association for Democracy in Singapore that purported to push for free speech. It counted opposition figures such as JB Jeyaretnam, Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan and former Workers’ Party election candidate Tang Liang Hong among its advisers.
He resettled his family in Australia in 2002, and continued to pursue extremism by joining Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international militant group banned in Bangladesh. He also established and maintained contact with radical preachers such as Australia’s Musa Cerantonio, who has inspired foreigners to fight in Syria, and radical British cleric Anjem Choudary.