Six Bangladeshis charged with terror financing
A Singapore court yesterday charged six Bangladeshi workers with terror financing, over a month after they were arrested on the allegation of planning attacks back home to topple the government, according to media reports.
The six, aged between 26 and 34, were among the eight Bangladeshi men who the Singapore authority said were members of a group called Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB).
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), authorities said.
The six men, detained according to the Internal Security Act of Singapore (ISA), were charged with providing or collecting money for militancy under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.
They are Rahman Mizanur, 31; Mamun Leakot Ali, 29; Miah Rubel, 26; Zaman Daulat, 34; Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, 30; and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, 29.
Through a court interpreter, five of the six said in Bangla that they intended to plead guilty, reports Reuters.
The sixth, Mamun Leakot, said he never contributed to funding any group's activities in Bangladesh.
"We just had an exchange of funds between ourselves,” he said after the judge asked him about a transfer of money with another of the suspects.
A pre-trial conference for Mamun has been set for June 9.
The six were the first to be prosecuted under the Act, said a police spokesman in a statement yesterday, reports The Strait Times, adding that the Commercial Affairs Department had started its investigations into the six on April 8.
A prosecutor who declined to be identified said the other two were still facing detention orders but had not been charged, Reuters reported. The two are Shariful Islam, 27, and Sohag Ibrahim, 27.
Security was tight at the state court as three armoured trucks carrying the suspects entered the premises, under heavy armed escort.
With Rahman Mizanur as the group's ringleader, authorities said, the eight met in parks and other open spaces to share radical propaganda and videos, calling themselves members of Islamic State in Bangladesh.
The detentions brought Singapore's 150,000 or more Bangladeshi migrant community into the spotlight for being one of the most marginalised Muslim communities in the wealthy city-state, according to rights groups and community leaders, reports Reuters.
INVESTIGATION IN BANGLADESH
Another five Bangladeshi workers detained in Singapore during a crackdown between late March and early April were deported on April 29 for suspected militancy link. They were later arrested by police from Banasree area in Dhaka.
Singapore's home ministry in a statement had said involvement of the five in ISB was not found in investigation carried out as part of a crackdown on the so-called ISB.
“They possessed and/or proliferated jihadi-related materials, or supported the use of armed violence in pursuit of a religious cause,” the statement, however, said.
A top official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit in Bangladesh, who is investigating the case filed against the five following their arrest, said they were radicalised in Singapore.
During interrogation, they named some of the eight Bangladeshis who were arrested in Singapore.
The five said those Bangladeshis, particularly Rahman Mizanur, used to motivate them to join militancy.
“So, we need to either interrogate them or get statements of those named by the five arrested in Bangladesh,” said another top official wishing anonymity.
He also said through the foreign ministry the government was trying to get the statements which are required for preparing a charge sheet against the five.
The five are Mizanur Rahman alias Ghalib Hasan, 38, Md Rana Mia Pilot, 29, Md Alamgir Hossain, 31, Md Tanjimul Islam, 24, and Masud Rana alias Sontu Khan, 31.
“Some of the five arrestees were found in possession of Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani's books that are known for preaching militancy, but we have yet not found their involvement with any local militant organisation,” said the official.
According to investigators, Rahmani is the spiritual leader of banned local militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
Earlier, Singapore authorities arrested 27 Bangladeshi construction workers between November 16 and December 1 last year for “supporting armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda”.
Of them, 26 were deported to Bangladesh and local police arrested 14 of them on December 21 after police found their link with militancy. Police are yet to submit charge sheet against them.
DB officials then said the 26 deportees had no links to Islamic State or al-Qaeda. But the 14 had links with banned local outfit ABT and Rahmani.