First Singaporean convicted of funding Islamic State - Convict argued that he does not recognize Singapore law but only the Shariah
Singapore was seen as one of the safest countries in the world due to the absence of Islamic terrorism in the island nation. It now seems that the small country has come in the grip of Islamic terror. In a notorious first for Singapore, a Muslim man has been charged and convicted with funding the dreaded Daesh or Islamic State (ISIS). On 13th January, 36 year old Imran Kassim was convicted of one count of funding Islamic State (ISIS) propaganda, reports the Straits Times of Singapore
Imran was found guilty of sending S$450 to a man named Mohamad Alsaied Alhmidan in Turkey on Oct 31, 2014. Mohamad Alsaied has been listed by the United States government as a specially designated national and says he is linked to ISIS. Imran has been detained under the Internal Security Act since August 2017 and was issued a detention order for intending to take part in armed violence overseas.
The Straits Times report says that after a short trial that lasted only a few hours, District Judge Seah Chi-Ling found Imran guilty based on his statements to officers, his admissions in court, and a remittance advice and receipt. Under Singapore's Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, introduced in 2002 to counter terrorism financing here, Imran faces prison time of not more than 10 years or a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both penalties.
Imran recognizes only Islamic Shariah and not the Singapore law
The highlight of Imran's conviction was not just his funding of ISIS but his temerity to argue that he is subject to Shariah Law and not to the Singapore's law. Straits Times reports that Judge Seah took strong objection with Imran’s defence where he said that he was not subject to Singapore law but to Syariah (sic) law. The judge said that Imran has not cited any authority to support this. Further, Imran had admitted to making the fund transfer but had argued that he had not break any law as he did not recognize Singapore law and only recognized Syariah (sic) law.
In his defence, Imran had also asserted that ISIS has been portrayed in a wrong manner and he did not commit any crime by transfering the money to ISIS. To this, Judge Seah said that even if these were proven to be true, which Imran had not, these arguments were not a defence in criminal law.
Modus Operandi of fund transfer to ISIS
Imran had transferred the money through an app and tried to remove the traces of his transactions. He downloaded an application called Surespot and had added Mohamad Alsaied so that he could communicate with him and get details of where to transfer the money to. The prosecution in its sentencing submissions has provided the details of the app and all Imran's transactions to prove him guilty.
It was also found that after making the transfer, Imran deleted the application because he did not want to leave any evidence of his actions. Imran had said in his statement that “to put it simply, I wanted to evade detection by the authorities”.
It is now common knowledge the Islamic terrorists are increasing using VOIP technology and Apps to avoid detection. Telegram has been found to be widely used by terrorists to communicate and plan their activities. End-to-End encryption in messaging apps makes it difficult for the security agencies to track their intentions. Many well educated and tech-savvy professionals have been found to be part of Islamic State activities worldwide. Many techies in India too have been arrested for working for ISIS.
Singapore safe haven for Islamic terrorists?
While Imran was the first Singaporean to be charged with terror financing in April last year, his conviction on Tuesday was the second such case. Last October, an IT professional Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 35, became the first Singaporean to be convicted of funding terrorism.
Ahmed was convicted on two charges in connection with two payments he had made amounting to about $1,145 in total to an individual who was "facilitating terrorist acts" overseas. He was charged for his crime in September and was sentenced to 2½ years' jail.
The Straits Times in its October 2019 report had said that the prosecution had submitted that Ahmed had become radicalized some time in 2013 after he came to know of the website and YouTube channel of Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, a radical preacher living in Jamaica. The preacher supported physical jihad, and also said it was an obligation for Muslims to set up a Muslim caliphate. Ahmed agreed with the preacher's ideology and reached out to him. The duo communicated via Facebook, e-mail and the messaging app WhatsApp.
Ahmed then discovered that he could donate money to Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, and did so in July 2016 by transferring $1,059 to a "Patrick Gray", who was collecting donations on Sheikh's behalf. A second sum of US$62 (S$85) was transferred to Sheikh's wife in Sept 3 that year, as per the Straits Times report.