Six Bangladeshi workers detained last month under the Internal Security Act (ISA) were charged yesterday with financing terrorism.
The six, aged 26 to 34, were among eight men arrested between late March and early last month. Calling themselves the Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB), they were planning attacks back home in hopes of toppling their government.
Their goal was to set up an Islamic state back home and bring it under the self-declared caliphate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Yesterday, the six men were charged with providing or collecting money for terrorism under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (TSOFA) - this is the first time the Act has been used for prosecution.
The six, who worked in the construction or marine industries, are Rahman Mizanur, 31; Mamun Leakot Ali, 29; Miah Rubel, 26; Zzaman Daulat, 34; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 31; and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29.
They were taken to court just before 2pm yesterday, in three armoured trucks, under heavy armed escort. The remaining two men are still serving their two-year detention orders under the ISA.
Rahman - who was identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the group's ringleader - had allegedly invited others to contribute to the cause. Court documents show that he had collected $1,000, at locations such as Boon Lay Park and Woodlands Waterfront Park. ISB had intended to use the money to buy firearms for attacks back home.
MHA said ISB had identified possible attack targets in Bangladesh, and possessed documents on weapons and bomb-making.
Two of the six - Miah and Jabath - were also charged with possession of money for terrorist purposes under the same Act.
Court documents show that Jabath was in possession of $1,360 - the highest amount among the group. Miah was charged with possessing $1,000. The six had contributed sums of $60 to $500.
Except for Mamun, all the accused told the court that they intend to plead guilty. They are expected to do so at a court hearing on Tuesday.
A pre-trial conference for Mamun, who denies giving money to ISB, has been set for June 9.
If found guilty, the men can be fined up to $500,000, or jailed for up to 10 years, or both.
The TSOFA is one of several pieces of legislation passed in 2002, in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks in the United States and the foiled Jemaah Islamiah plot in Singapore, both in 2001.
A police spokesman said Singapore takes a "serious view of any support for terrorism-related activities, including terrorism financing".
"The authorities will take firm and decisive action against any person who provides, collects and/or possesses property, for terrorist purposes."