Four Bangladeshi workers jailed for financing terror

Police armoured vehicles (left) were used to transport (clockwise from top right) Miah Rubel, Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Rahman Mizanur to the State Courts yesterday.
Police armoured vehicles (above) were used to transport (clockwise from top right) Miah Rubel, Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Rahman Mizanur to the State Courts yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Police armoured vehicles (left) were used to transport (clockwise from top right) Miah Rubel, Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Rahman Mizanur to the State Courts yesterday.
Police armoured vehicles were used to transport Miah Rubel (right), Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Rahman Mizanur (left) to the State Courts yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Police armoured vehicles (left) were used to transport (clockwise from top right) Miah Rubel, Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Rahman Mizanur to the State Courts yesterday.
Police armoured vehicles were used to transport Miah Rubel, Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader (right), Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar (left) and Rahman Mizanur to the State Courts yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Among eight held under ISA, they had raised money here to fund terror acts in Bangladesh

Four Bangladeshi workers who raised money here to fund acts of terror in their homeland were yesterday jailed for two to five years.

The first to be convicted under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, they arrived at the State Courts in armoured trucks. Bound and shackled in court, they were flanked by 11 Gurkha officers.

District Judge Kessler Soh said any act of terrorism had to be condemned, to deter those "embarking on such nefarious acts".

Ringleader Rahman Mizanur, 31, got the heaviest sentence of five years' jail. Prosecutors pointed out that it was he who recruited the others and started the Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB), a pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Miah Rubel, 26, and Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31, who acted as the group's treasurers, received 21/2 years' jail.

Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29, who donated $300 to the cause, was given two years' jail.

All four are among eight Bangladeshis who were given two-year detention orders under the Internal Security Act in April for allegedly forming and financing the ISB.

Of the other four, Sohag Ibrahim and Islam Shariful, both 27, remain in detention, while Zzaman Daulat, 34, and Mamun Leakot Ali, 29, have claimed trial.

The four jailed yesterday had raised a total of $1,360 to finance the ISB.

While the sum is not large, it is significant relative to the salaries of the men, who earned between $900 and $1,800 each month, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo.

The prosecution pointed to recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh to highlight how inexpensive weapons such as machetes and fertiliser fuel bombs can cause much havoc.

By plotting to commit terror acts such as the killing of Hindus, Christians and Buddhists back home, the four jailed yesterday had struck at the "very heart of Singapore's religious harmony", said DPP Khoo, who called for severe deterrence.

He argued that those who try to fund terrorism should never think that the worst they will face is repatriation to their country. Last year, Singapore deported 27 Bangladeshis for terror activities.

All four men asked for leniency, saying they were very sorry and would not commit the crimes again.

Rahman addressed the court directly, while the others spoke through an interpreter.

Explaining in halting English how he got radicalised, Rahman said: "I wanted to learn more about my religion... My friends and the media, they show me the wrong way. This is my very big mistake."

Apologising for his crimes, he asked for a second chance so he could go home to his wife and two children.

The ISB had been planning attacks back home in the hope of toppling the government and bringing Bangladesh under the self-declared caliphate of ISIS.

The group had a list of targets and bomb-making manuals, and was raising funds to buy firearms.

The sentences of the four men will be backdated to May 27, when they were charged.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, in response to queries from The Straits Times, said it will assess whether the detention orders for these men will still be necessary.

"We will not comment on where they will be serving their sentences," it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Four Bangladeshi workers jailed for financing terror'. Print Edition | Subscribe