First Singaporean convicted of funding terrorism jailed for 2.5 years
Ex-IT engineer, 35, had donated $1,146 to radical preacher in Jamaica in 2016
His wife was pregnant when he was detained last year under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for wanting to take up armed violence in Syria.
Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 35, was in remand when she gave birth to their son. The former information technology engineer has since been allowed to see his son for only 30 minutes.
Yesterday, Ahmed Hussein was sentenced to 2½ years' jail after pleading guilty to two counts of funding terrorism.
He is the first Singaporean convicted and sentenced under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, introduced in 2002 to counter terrorism financing here.
He was arrested by the Internal Security Department in July last year and detained for wanting to use armed violence in support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The court heard Ahmed Hussein became radicalised after he got to know of Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, a radical preacher in Jamaica, in 2013. He watched Sheikh Abdullah's videos on YouTube in support of the use of armed violence by ISIS to set up an Islamic caliphate.
Convicted of terrorism offences in the United Kingdom in 2003, Sheikh Abdullah was deported to Jamaica after serving four years of a nine-year jail term.
The conviction did not deter Ahmed Hussein from communicating with the preacher over Facebook, e-mail and WhatsApp. Ahmed Hussein learnt he could donate money to Sheikh Abdullah.
Despite knowing the money would be used to facilitate terrorist acts, he donated a total of $1,146 on two occasions in 2016.
On July 29 that year, he sent $1,059 via Western Union to a mule who was collecting donations on the preacher's behalf. On Sept 3, he sent US$62 (about S$87) via PayPal to Sheikh Abdullah's wife, who was collecting money on his behalf.
Ahmed Hussein admitted he was aware that the donations were risky transactions and that he could get into trouble.
TRIED TO COVER TRACKS
In an effort to cover his tracks, he deleted e-mails from his account. He also deleted the e-mail account linked to his Facebook to prevent access to records of his communication with the preacher on Facebook.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui told the court yesterday: "Terrorism, whether in the form of acts or ideals, is globally condemned, and it is in the public interest of Singapore to ensure terrorism financing is dealt with firmly."
Urging the court to impose a deterrent jail sentence of 30 months, he said: "It cannot be overstated that the funding of terrorist propaganda which preaches violent religious ideology must be clamped down upon unequivocally.
"In so doing, Singapore continues to fulfil her duty as a member of the global community in the unending fight against terrorism."
Ahmed Hussein, who was taken to the District Court in a police armoured vehicle, was also surrounded by armed guards inside the courtroom.
Pleading for leniency, he told the court his mother has dementia and is being cared for by his wife during his absence.
The accused, who did not have a lawyer, said he has been rehabilitated and wants to be a good citizen and be reunited with his family after his release.
During sentencing, District Judge Ng Peng Hong said he agreed with the prosecution's position that the nature and gravity of the offence needed to be reflected in the punishment.
In 2016, six Bangladeshi men who set up an Islamic State in Bangladesh cell here were the first to be prosecuted under the terrorism financing Act.
They were each jailed between two and five years.
Singaporean Imran Kassim, 35, was charged under the Act on April 15. His case is pending.
Though Ahmed Hussein was charged later, on Sept 16, he is the first Singaporean to be convicted and sentenced under the act.
For terrorism financing, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined $500,000.