A 35-year-old former IT engineer was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on Thursday (17 October) after he was convicted of terrorism financing.
Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman became the first Singaporean to be sentenced for this offence after he gave funding of about S$1,145 to a Jamaican preacher who had been placed behind bars for stirring racial hatred.
Ahmed pleaded guilty in a district court on Thursday to two charges under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act as he was “facilitating terrorist acts” for an individual overseas.
During a closed-door hearing on Thursday, the court heard that Ahmed was detained under the Internal Security Act in August 2018. It appeared that his journey into radicalisation first started around 2013 after he discovered the website and YouTube channel of Jamaican preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal.
As such, the Singaporean man had the intention to undertake armed violence in Syria in support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).
Sheikh is a staunch supporter of the use of violence against any “intruders”, which is described as “non-Muslims attacking a Muslim area or location”.
The Jamaican also believes that Muslims have the obligation to create an Islamic caliphate and that Isis’ establishment of the caliphate through violence deserves praise.
In 2003, Sheik was found guilty and placed nine years in prison in the United Kingdom for multiple offences which include soliciting the murders of Americans, Hindus, Jews and Christians and using threatening words to inflict racial hatred.
In his trial in the UK, recorded evidences of Sheikh’s lectures were released where he was heard calling for the death of non-believers, quoting the words of prominent Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as well as calling for the murder of Jews and bombing of Hindu businesses.
Although Ahmed was aware of Sheikh’s past and activities, he still got in touch with the preacher and began talking to him via Facebook, WhatsApp and email. He later found out that he could donate money to Sheikh.
Therefore, on 29 July 2016, the Singaporean transferred S$1,059 to a man called Patrick Gray, who acted as a middleman. In September 2016, he sent a second sum of US$62 (S$87) to Sheikh’s wife Nzingha Kokayi through PayPal.
Uncompromising punishment for supporting terrorism
During Thursday’s hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chong Yonghui said that the jail sentence given sends “a strong message to other like-minded individuals in Singapore that supporting terrorism through financial means will attract uncompromising punishment”.
“Terrorism in all its manifestations, whether as acts, or propaganda in the form of extremist rhetoric, affects us all. This is especially so when the Internet, a platform with a truly global reach, is used to distribute terrorist propaganda which is focused on recruitment, radicalisation and incitement to terrorism,” DPP Chong said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said last month that the Ahmed has also followed lectures by other foreign radical ideologues like Anwar al-Awlaki from Al-Qaeda and others who have been arrested or jailed for encouraging violence or supporting terrorism.
MHA added that Ahmed also kept in touch regularly with foreign pro-Isis individuals on social media to find out the latest happenings and developments in Isis. In addition, he also attempted to influence a number of his foreign online contacts to follow the teachings of the radical individuals whom he had been following, as he wanted them to support Isis.
On Thursday, Ahmed requested for leniency and informed the court that his son was born while he was in detention and his mother has dementia. He also assured that he will be a “good citizen of Singapore” after his release.
For terrorism financing, Ahmed could have been jailed for up to 10 years, or fined up to S$500,000, or both.
Besides Ahmed, another Singaporean called Imran Kassim was also charged under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the beginning of this year as he was found to be providing funds to support Isis’ propaganda efforts. His trial will begin in January 2020.
Apart from him, six Bangladeshi men have also been convicted of terrorism financing. It is stated that they have set up an Islamic State in Bangladesh cell here in 2016.
Just last month, three Indonesian domestic workers were detained under ISA and were investigated for terrorism-financing activities.
They are the first foreign domestic workers who have been issued detention orders under ISA in Singapore. The domestic helpers have been prepared to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and were collecting support for the terrorist group.