Foreign workers in Singapore are first to be prosecuted under new law specifically targeting terrorism financing.
Four Bangladeshi guest workers who pleaded guilty to raising finances for an alleged Islamist terrorist plot in their homeland were convicted by a Singapore court on Tuesday and could face up to 10 years in jail.
The men, aged 26 to 31, were brought to court in three armored vehicles and became the first to be prosecuted under a Singapore law specifically targeting terrorism financing. They will be sentenced at a later date.
In court, the men were dressed in purple overalls with the word “detainee” emblazoned across their chests and backs, shackled at the hands and feet and closely watched by members of the elite Gurkha unit of the Singapore police.
Court documents said the men contributed, collected or possessed funds for the alleged plot ranging from Sg$60 to Sg$1,360. For involvement in terrorist financing, the men face up to 10 years in jail, a maximum fine of Sg$500,000 ($362,000), or both.
Singapore, which depends heavily on Bangladeshis and other foreign workers in the construction sector, considers itself a potential target of extremists because of its strong military ties with the United States. It was the second group of Bangladeshis rounded up in Singapore since 27 were arrested in late 2015, also over alleged plots in their homeland. All have since been deported.
State prosecutors say the second group’s leader Rahman Mizanur, 31, had repeatedly tried to join the Islamic State group but was unsuccessful because he could not get visas to Turkey or Algeria. He then went to Singapore as a construction worker.
A fifth worker, Zzaman Daulat, 34, pleaded not guilty, along with a sixth man, and both will now go to trial. “I know I contributed $200 but I didn’t know it’ll be used for terrorism,” Zzamat said through a court interpreter.
The five were among eight Bangladeshis held since April under Singapore’s tough Internal Security Act.
Items seized from them included manuals on bomb-making and how to use a 0.50 caliber sniper rifle, along with a list of Bangladesh government and military officials allegedly targeted for attack, Singapore’s home affairs ministry said. The Singapore convictions come amid growing concern in Bangladesh over an increase in attacks on liberals and religious minorities in the Muslim-majority nation.