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Singapore Convicts Four Bangladeshis on Terror-Related Charges

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Dhaka
2016-05-31
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An armored vehicle transporting six Bangladeshi defendants travels to the state courthouse in Singapore, May 31, 2016.
An armored vehicle transporting six Bangladeshi defendants travels to the state courthouse in Singapore, May 31, 2016.
AFP

A Singaporean court Tuesday convicted four Bangladeshis of raising funds for a terror plot in their home country, marking the first time that someone will be going to prison under Singapore’s terrorism-financing law, reports said.

The State Court convicted Bangladeshi construction workers Rahman Mizanur, Miah Rubel, Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar and Sohel Hawlader after they pled guilty to charges of financing terrorism, according to news reports from Singapore.

“They are likely to face punishment in Singapore as they violated Singapore’s domestic law,” Masudur Rahman, a spokesman for Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told BenarNews on Tuesday.

The four will be sentenced later and could each face up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of Sg $500,000 (U.S. $362,000), or both, Agence France-Presse reported.

The four men held or handled amounts of money for financing the alleged plot, which ranged from Sg $60 (U.S. $44) to 1,360 (U.S. $988), according to the Associated Press, which cited police charge sheets.

The four were among six Bangladeshis charged on Friday under Singapore’s Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act. They were also among eight Bangladeshi construction workers who were arrested in the city-state in April for allegedly plotting to overthrow Bangladesh’s government as well as target government and military officials for assassination, according to the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs.

Among the six who were charged on May 27 were defendants Zzaman Daulat and Mamun Leakot Ali, who pleaded not guilty at the State Court on Tuesday. The court set June 9 for a pre-trial conference in their case, the Straits Times newspaper of Singapore reported.

Singapore, which arrested the eight men under its Internal Security Act, says they were part of a militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB).

In January, Singapore confirmed that it had deported 26 Bangladeshis with alleged links to Islamic State or al-Qaeda. Fourteen of the 26 who were sent home late last year.

Some of them are in Bangladeshi custody but others who have been freed were under police surveillance, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews.

A threat to Bangladesh’s migrant workforce?

The conviction of the four workers tarnishes the name of countless Bangladeshis who travel abroad in search of low-skilled jobs, said the head of the Warbe Development Foundation, a local NGO that supports Bangladesh’s migrant workforce.

Bangladeshi migrant workers must punish “the culprits who give a bad name to the hard-working Bangladeshi workers,” Syed Saiful Haque told BenarNews.

“Our migrant workers are very hard working and law abiding, but a handful of them were radicalized. We have to find out how radicalism entered into the minds of the poor people. Otherwise, Bangladesh’s labor market would be in jeopardy,” he said.

Bangladesh’s economy relies on remittances sent home from members of its migrant workforce, which comprises around 9 million people worldwide, according to the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry. More than 200,000 Bangladeshis work in Singapore’s construction, marine and other sectors.

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