Singaporean on trial for terror funding admits sending $450 to aid ISIS

Imran Kassim is representing himself in his trial for terrorism financing. PHOTO: IMRAN KASSIM/FACEBOOK
Imran Kassim is representing himself in his trial for terrorism financing.PHOTO: IMRAN KASSIM/FACEBOOK

The first Singaporean to be charged with terror financing admitted in his trial yesterday that he had transferred funds overseas to support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Former logistics professional Imran Kassim, 36, was charged with transferring $450 through remittance company Western Union to Mohamad Alsaied Alhmidan in Turkey for the publication of ISIS propaganda about six years ago.

"I do admit to making the transfer, and I did it to benefit the Islamic State," he said, using another common name for ISIS.

On an official website, the United States government lists Mohamad Alsaied as a specially designated national, and says he is linked to ISIS.

Under Singapore's Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, introduced in 2002 to counter terrorism financing here, anyone convicted of the offence of providing property and services for terrorist purposes could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both.

Imran, who was taken into court handcuffed and blindfolded, and was ushered in by four men, is representing himself.

The court heard that he was previously represented by a law firm, which has since discharged itself.

In court yesterday, Imran argued that while he had made the fund transfer to ISIS, he had not broken the law as he did not recognise Singapore law, and recognised only syariah law.

Mainstream Islamic scholars say Muslims are obliged to follow the laws of the land where they live, and that ISIS and its violence are a distortion of Islamic teachings.

Imran has been detained under the Internal Security Act since August 2017 and was issued a detention order for intending to take part in armed violence overseas.

In April last year, he was the first Singaporean here to be charged with terror financing.

 
 
 
 

Last October, former IT professional Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 35, became the first Singaporean to be convicted of funding terrorism. He was sentenced to 2½ years in jail. He had been charged the month before.

In Imran's case, a parallel investigation by the police's Commercial Affairs Department found that he had provided funds to aid ISIS.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Nicholas Khoo and Foo Shi Hao said: "Terrorism is a transnational scourge, and Singapore takes its duties as a member of the global community seriously in its unending fight against terrorism, and accordingly, terrorism financing."

Mr Khoo added that Imran had transferred the money knowing it would benefit the terror group by "garnering more support for ISIS and raising awareness for ISIS".

The prosecution presented to the court records of the transfer that took place on Oct 31, 2014, which had Imran's handwriting and signature. It also presented Imran's statements, which he did not take any issue with and agreed had been given voluntarily.

The prosecution closed its case yesterday morning, arguing that with the bank receipt and form, Imran's statements to the police and his own admissions, the charge against him had been made out.

During his cross-examination of the witnesses for the prosecution, Imran asked how the police knew that the man he had transferred money to was the same man on the US list of terror suspects, adding that more than one person could have the same name.

Yesterday, Imran's family requested to speak to him during a break before he gave his closing submissions for his defence, which District Judge Seah Chi-Ling allowed.

In open court, some of his family members tried to convince him to say he was supporting "charitable causes", and not violence.

But Imran refused, telling his family that Singapore and other countries have taken part in killings as well, in the war against ISIS.

Pleading with him, a male family member asked Imran to "think about (his) family", to which Imran said this had "nothing to do" with his family.

The family member also passed Imran a note and urged him to read it out during his submis-sions, saying that he needed a stronger mitigation plea to avoid a harsh sentence.

In his closing submissions, Imran said there were exaggera-tions in how ISIS was portrayed. He also repeated his stance to not plead guilty, but added that he did want to help ISIS with the transfer of the money.

The judge is expected to deliver his verdict today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2020, with the headline 'S'porean on trial for terror funding admits sending $450 to aid ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe