Two maids jailed for terrorism financing offences

$1,216.73 sent by one maid to finance terror is so far the largest sum before the courts: DPP

Two Indonesian maids were jailed yesterday after pleading guilty to terrorism financing offences.

The separate court cases, under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, involved Turmini, 31, and Retno Hernayani, 37.

Turmini was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail for her role in remitting cash totalling $1,216.73 to a man in Indonesia who supported the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

Retno's jail term is 11/2 years. She had collected $100 in donations from her friends in Singapore and added $40 from her own pocket before remitting the monies to her fiance, Fikri Zulfikar, a known supporter of terrorist entities.

TURMINI'S CASE

Turmini, who goes by one name, is from a village in Cilacap in Central Java and arrived in Singapore in 2012 to be a domestic worker.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo told District Judge Christopher Tan that the $1,216.73 she had donated for terrorism financing is so far the largest amount before the courts.

The donations were made through her unsuspecting employer who was duped into remitting the monies into a bank account belonging to a man called Edi Siswanto, who supported ISIS and its Indonesia-based affiliated group, the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). The employer had thought it was a joint bank account belonging to Turmini's mother and brother.

DPP Khoo said cash was remitted on five occasions, "which was the most number of occasions any offender has donated to terrorism".

The maid pleaded guilty to three charges involving more than $800. Two similar charges linked to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

The court heard from DPP Tan Hsiao Tien that Turmini met Edi, whom she also knew as "Zubair", in 2018 via Facebook. He was a member of a purported religious charity called Aseer Cruee Centre (ACC) and told her that if she wanted to go to heaven, she must support organisations like ISIS and JAD that were "trying to uphold Islamic law" .

 
 
 

Later that year, she befriended on Facebook one Rozaliany Rozz who asked her to download messaging app Telegram to learn about ISIS.

Turmini was exposed to many articles on ISIS and JAD, DPP Tan said. From 2018 until the middle of last year, she chatted with Edi almost daily on WhatsApp and their conversation included ISIS matters.

As part of an arrangement, the court heard, Turmini's entire salary was held by her employer for safekeeping. Her employer would help her remit money to her family whenever she needed to do it.

On three occasions, between September 2018 and January last year, Turmini asked her boss to remit cash to Edi's bank account.

It was not mentioned in court how her offences came to light but she was arrested last Aug 22.

Her lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed asked for a one-year jail term, saying Turmini had been "easily influenced" to support the terrorist groups owing to her "shallow knowledge and exposure to the real teachings of the Islamic religion".

He also told Judge Tan that after serving her sentence, she plans to enrol herself in a mainstream religious school in Indonesia to "learn more about the true teachings of the religion".

RETNO'S CASE

Retno, who is from a village in Lampung, Sumatra, came to work in Singapore in 2006.

Yesterday, she pleaded guilty to two charges .

 
 
 

In 2012, she befriended a fellow Indonesian called Tuning Ambarwati while on an MRT train.

Two years later, she found out about ISIS after reading Tuning's Facebook posts on the group.

In 2018, she developed an interest in ISIS and in April that year, Tuning introduced her to Fikri, an ISIS sympathiser who wanted to join the terror group in Syria.

Fikri became her fiance and she wanted to go with him to Syria.

On March 10 last year, she met three other Indonesian maids in Paya Lebar. The trio, all aged 33, were Anindia Afiyantari, Yulistika and Nurhasanah.

During the meeting, the women agreed to donate to ACC to help the families of JAD members who had died or were in prison. They also wanted to support JAD's activities, which included violent causes.

All contributed cash and Retno remitted the monies to Fikri in Indonesia. She was arrested on Aug 20 last year.

The case involving Anindia is pending while Tuning, Yulistika and Nurhasanah left Singapore last year before investigations started.

For each charge under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Two maids jailed for terrorism financing offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe