Singaporean on trial for funding Islamic State propaganda in first case of terrorism financing

Singaporean on trial for funding Islamic State propaganda in first case of terrorism financing

Imran Kassim
Imran Kassim is on trial for financing terrorism. (Photo: Facebook/Imran Kassim)

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean man accused of financing terrorism stood trial on Monday (Jan 13) in what is the first case of its kind in Singapore under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

Imran Kassim, 36, is accused of providing money to a person in Turkey for the publication of Islamic State (ISIS) propaganda about six years ago.

Asked whether he pleaded guilty or claimed trial, Imran answered: "I can't plead guilty or not plead guilty because I don't recognise Singapore law. I only recognise Islamic law."

Prompted by the judge, Imran clarified that he referred to Islamic Sharia law.

"The only thing I will do is I will admit I did do the transfer," he said.

He was charged in April last year with providing S$450 to a person in Turkey in October 2014 for the publication of ISIS propaganda.

He allegedly remitted the money through Western Union Global Network to a Mohamad Alsaied Alhmidan.

"Terrorism is a transnational scourge and Singapore takes its duties as a member of the global community seriously in its unending fight against terrorism, and accordingly, terrorism financing," said Deputy Public Prosecutors Nicholas Khoo and Foo Shi Hao.

Mr Khoo said Imran transferred the money knowing that it would benefit ISIS by, "among other things, garnering more support for ISIS and raising awareness for ISIS".

They presented records of the transfer that took place on Oct 31, 2014, bearing Imran's handwriting and signature, as well as Imran's statements.

Imran, who was previously represented by a law firm that has since discharged itself, is representing himself in the trial.

He has been detained under the Internal Security Act since August 2017 and issued a detention order for intending to undertake armed violence overseas.

Imran was ushered into the court by four men in plainclothes, and his family members attended the hearing, with some of them making exclamations and reacting at hearing proceedings.

In his cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, Imran asked questions including whether other groups and Israel are listed as terrorist entities, and questioned how the Commercial Affairs Department officer knew that the recipient of the money was the exact same man as the "specially designated national" in a list of terror suspects published by the United States.

However, he repeatedly agreed that the statements he had given to investigators were given voluntarily.

He asked why he was being handcuffed as he has not yet been convicted, citing advice from his previous lawyer, and the judge answered that it was part of the security measures.

The prosecution closed its case on Monday morning, saying the charge has been made out with Imran's own confessions in his statements to the police, corroborated with the bank receipt and form.

FAMILY TRIES TO TALK TO HIM

Imran's family requested to speak to him during a break, and tried to persuade him to state that he was not supporting violence but instead giving to "charitable causes".

However, Imran would not budge.

When told by a family member that "the organisation you are supporting doesn't care about you", he replied that the Singapore government "doesn't care" and "took part in the killings in the war against the Islamic State".

When urged by a male family member to "think about your family", he said: "This has got nothing to do with my family" and "They're going to convict me anyway".

In his closing submissions for his defence, Imran repeated allegations that there are "inconsistencies", "hyperbole" and "gross exaggerations" in the way ISIS is portrayed.

He reiterated that he would not plead guilty as he did not recognise Singapore law, but said he did transfer the money and that he did so to benefit ISIS.

The judge adjourned his verdict to Tuesday morning.

If found guilty of providing property for the benefit of a terrorist or terrorist entity, Imran can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum S$500,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(mn)

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