Singaporean who financed terror group jailed for 33 months

Imran Kassim, 36, was the first Singaporean here to be charged with terror financing in April last year. PHOTO: IMRAN KASSIM/FACEBOOK
Imran Kassim, 36, was the first Singaporean here to be charged with terror financing in April last year. PHOTO: IMRAN KASSIM/FACEBOOK

Ex-logistics professional took steps to cover his tracks after transferring funds to support ISIS

The first Singaporean here to be charged with terror financing was yesterday found guilty and sentenced to 33 months' jail.

On Monday, Imran Kassim, a 36-year-old former logistics professional, admitted to transferring funds to support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

He had transferred $450 in 2014 through remittance company Western Union to Mohamad Alsaied Alhmidan in Turkey to help him push and publish ISIS propaganda.

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

Based on Imran's admissions in court, a remittance form and receipt, and his statements to the authorities, District Judge Seah Chi-Ling found Imran guilty yesterday.

Imran faced prison time of up to 10 years or a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both penalties under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

His 33-month sentence was backdated to April 15 last year.

Yesterday, the judge noted that Imran knew money he sent would help ISIS, which is clearly a terrorist organisation.

Imran had said in his statements that he transferred the money because he believed the donation would help spread support for ISIS, gather more supporters for it and raise awareness about the group.

Imran had also claimed that ISIS has been portrayed wrongfully. Judge Seah said that even if Imran had managed to show this was true - which he had not - such arguments were not a defence in criminal law.

On Monday, while Imran admitted to making the fund transfer and accepted that he did it to benefit ISIS, he also argued that he had not broken the law as he did not recognise Singapore law and recognised only syariah law.

 
 
 
 

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.

The court heard yesterday that the prosecution sought a jail sentence of 32 to 33 months, citing factors such as the deliberate nature of Imran's financing, the transnational element of his offences, and his lack of remorse.

A notable aggravating factor in Imran's case was the fact that terrorism-financing offences are hard to detect and he had taken steps to cover his tracks, noted the prosecution.

Imran downloaded an application called Surespot to add Mohamad Alsaied, so that he could communicate with him and get details of where to transfer the money, said the prosecution in its sentencing submissions.

After making the transfer, Imran deleted the app as he did not want to leave evidence of his actions and wanted to evade detection, it added.

Asked by the judge if he had anything to add before being sentenced, Imran said: "I think I've said everything that I wish to say yesterday."

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.

While Imran was the first Singaporean here to be charged with terror financing in April last year, he was the second to be convicted.

Last October, former IT professional Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 35, who was charged after Imran, became the first Singaporean to be convicted of funding terrorism.

He had been charged in September last year and was sentenced to 2½ years' jail.

After Imran was sentenced, his younger brother, who declined to be named, told reporters that while Imran was a good person and "a very principled man", his family did not share his sentiments about ISIS and rejected the organisation.

He said: "(Imran) is never one to remain quiet when he sees something wrong. However, let me be clear that we stand with Singapore against Imran's actions.

"He ultimately wanted to protect people. To save civilians and not kill them. But he has sided with an enemy of Singapore, known for using fear, intimidation and manipulation, as a means to their end. We fully reject ISIS as an organisation, and the stain they have left on Islam."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'S'porean who financed terror group jailed for 33 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe