SINGAPORE: Four Bangladeshi workers who allegedly planned attacks linked to the militant Islamic State (IS) group in their own country were sentenced Tuesday to jail terms of up to five years.
Prosecutors said the men, who pleaded guilty, had contributed part of their salary to buy food, arms and weapons like knives and pistols to launch attacks in Bangladesh. The amounts ranged from 60 Singapore dollars ($42) to 1,360 Singapore dollars ($1,000).
They were part of a group detained in April under the country’s Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial in cases where public safety is threatened.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has said the group’s suspected leader, Rahman Mizanur, possessed guides on making weapons and bombs, as well as radical material from IS and Al Qaeda that he used to recruit the others.
Rahman, 31, pleaded guilty and was convicted of two charges of financing terrorism by inviting group members to contribute funds and handling the money to facilitate plans.
In sentencing Rahman to five years in jail, District Judge Kessler Soh emphasised that a deterrent sentence and “much stiffer punishment is warranted.”
“He was the mastermind. He was the one who started this whole outfit,” the judge said.
Rahman was shackled as he arrived in court and looked down when the sentence was passed, surrounded by heavy police guard. He had earlier addressed the court in English, putting forth a lengthy plea for mitigation. “I wanted to learn my religion. (My friends) showed me the wrong way, the wrong activities,” Rahman said.
“This is my very big mistake sir. I am very remorseful.”
The three other men convicted were Miah Rubel, Muhammad Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader. They were sentenced to 2½ years, 2½ years and two years in jail, respectively.
The maximum sentence for financing terrorism is 10 years in jail and a fine of $500,000 Singapore dollars ($370,309).
Two other men have pleaded not guilty and their trial dates have not been set. Two other Bangladeshi men who were detained in April have not been charged and will be dealt with separately, officials have said.
In January, Singapore said it had arrested and deported 26 Bangladeshi construction workers for forming a religious study group that spread the ideologies of Al Qaeda and IS.