By Kirsten Han
SINGAPORE (AA) – A Singapore court has charged six of the eight Bangladeshi migrant workers detained in April for alleged radical activity and an intention to set up an 'Islamic state' in Bangladesh with financing terrorism.
The Singapore police said in a press statement Friday that the six men were charged for providing and/or collecting property for “terrorist purposes” under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act -- the first time anyone has been prosecuted under the legislation in Singapore.
Two of the men are also being charged for possession of property for “terrorist purposes”.
Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement issued earlier this month that the eight men belonged to a clandestine group known as the "Islamic State of Bangladesh", or ISB.
The ministry has claimed that the men had initially intended to travel to Syria to fight for terrorist group Daesh, but eventually decided to focus on overthrowing the Bangladesh government after they decided that it would be difficult to make their way to the Middle East.
Their plan, according to Singapore's home affairs ministry, was to "establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh and bring it under ISIS’ [Daesh] self-declared caliphate".
The ministry said that it had found a document titled "We Need for Jihad Fight" listing potential government and military officials identified as targets, along with other materials on building weapons and bombs, and other "radical material" linked to Daesh or Al-Qaeda.
According to the ministry, the group had also managed to raise some funds to purchase firearms for their plans.
The men were brought to court just before 2 p.m. (0600GMT) Friday under heavy escort in three armored trucks, local newspaper The Straits Times reported.
Among them was 31-year-old Rahman Mizanur, previously identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs as the ringleader of the group.
All but one of the men have indicated that they intend to plead guilty to the charges. They are expected to do so at their next court appearance on May 31.
The ministry had earlier said that there was no sign that Singapore had been selected as a target.
The Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act was passed in Singapore in 2002, in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States and a foiled alleged plot by the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group in Singapore.