6 Bangladeshis charged with financing terrorism taken to court amid tight security

The six Bangladeshi workers charged are (clockwise, from top left) ringleader Rahman Mizanur, 31; Miah Rubel, 26; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31; Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29; Zzaman Daulat, 34; and Mamun Leakot Ali, 29. A police
The six Bangladeshi workers charged are (clockwise, from top left) ringleader Rahman Mizanur, 31; Miah Rubel, 26; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31; Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29; Zzaman Daulat, 34; and Mamun Leakot Ali, 29.PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
The six Bangladeshi workers charged are (clockwise, from top left) ringleader Rahman Mizanur, 31; Miah Rubel, 26; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31; Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29; Zzaman Daulat, 34; and Mamun Leakot Ali, 29. A police
A police armoured truck arriving at the State Courts building yesterday. It was among a convoy that took six Bangladeshi men charged with financing terrorism to court. They are the first to be charged under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Just before 2pm yesterday, a convoy of three armoured trucks turned off Havelock Road and rumbled into the State Courts building.

With motorcycle outriders, police cars and armed Gurkha guards in tow, the six Bangladeshi men charged with financing terrorism arrived at the courthouse.

The suspects are the first to be charged under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act since it was passed in 2002.

They were among eight Bangladeshi men, who called themselves the "Islamic State in Bangladesh", arrested between late March and early last month.

In Court 26 yesterday, each man emerged in public for the first time since being detained.

In that time, they have been investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department. Now they are clean-shaven, without the beards that they had in the pictures previously released to the media.

Dressed in purple garb, with the word "Detainee" emblazoned across their chests, each man was cuffed and shackled, and accompanied by at least a pair of Gurkha officers in the dock. They were taken out in pairs, and the charges were read to them in Bengali.

One by one, the men - who showed no discernible emotion - told the court that they intend to plead guilty. The only exception was Mamun Leakot Ali, 29, the last to be charged. He cocked his head to the side as the charges were read to him. He stood accused of contributing $500 and collecting funds of $300 for terrorist acts. He denied contributing money to the Islamic State in Bangladesh.

Court documents show the money handled by the six men changed hands in places such as Jurong Shipyard, Woodlands Waterfront Park and Boon Lay Park.

Mamun will appear in court on June 9 for a pre-trial conference. The other five are expected to plead guilty at a court hearing on Tuesday.

Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'Suspects taken to court amid tight security'. Print Edition | Subscribe