S’porean businessman sentenced to 3 years and 10 months’ jail for funding terrorist attacks in Syria

SINGAPORE – A Singaporean businessman who helped fund terrorist attacks in Syria was sentenced to three years and 10 months’ jail in a district court on Thursday (Sept 9).

Mohamed Kazali Salleh, now 51, admitted that he had committed offences under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

He had been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

According to court documents, on three occasions between December 2013 and early 2014, Kazali provided money to a man identified as Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin, intending for the money to be used to facilitate terrorist acts in Syria.

On one occasion, he handed over RM1,000 (S$385) to Wan Mohd Aquil at a bus terminal in Johor Bahru.

The other two occasions involve Kazali remitting US$351.75 (S$450) and RM500 through Western Union in Singapore and Malaysia respectively.

Under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, which was introduced in 2002 to counter terrorism financing here, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000 on each charge.

In an earlier statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that Kazali, who was based in Malaysia, was arrested by Malaysian Special Branch officers in December 2018.

He was sent back to Singapore and issued an Order of Detention under the ISA in January 2019 for his support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

MHA added: “He was a close associate of Syria-based ISIS militant Malaysian Wan Mohd Aquil bin Wan Zainal Abidin, also known as Akel Zainal, believed to be the most senior ISIS fighter in Syria prior to his reported death in March 2019.”

Akel, who was a member of 1990s Malaysian rock band Ukays, reportedly instructed two Malaysian ISIS supporters to attack places of worship and police stations in Malaysia in 2019.

The plots were foiled when the supporters were arrested in November 2018.

MHA said in its statement that upon conviction, the Order of Detention against Kazali will be cancelled and he will serve the sentence imposed by the court.

He will then be held separately in prison and continue to undergo rehabilitation “to prevent him from spreading his radical ideas to other inmates”.

At the end of his sentence, an assessment will be made to see if he has been successfully rehabilitated or remains a threat to society.

“If he remains a threat, he may be detained further under the ISA,” said MHA.

The ministry said Singapore is committed to combating terrorism financing regardless of whether the money is used to facilitate terrorist acts locally or abroad.

It reminded the public that they should not remit money or provide any support to a terrorist organisation and urged anyone with information on such activities to inform the authorities promptly.