Four Bangladeshi workers face up to 5 years in prison for planning terror attacks in the name of the so-called "Islamic State". They were among eight migrant workers held under a new anti-terror act introduced this year.
The men all pleaded guilty to contributing part of their wages - ranging from 60 Singapore dollars ($45, 40 euros) to 1,360 Singapore dollars - to buy food, arms and weapons to launch attacks in Bangladesh, prosecutors said.
They had been working in Singapore and were on a visit back their homeland when detained in Dhaka in April under Bangladesh's Internal Security Act, which gives authorities the power to try suspects without trial in cases where public safety is threatened.
The group's suspected leader, Rahman Mizanur, was alleged to have possessed guides on making weapons and bombs and radical material from Islamic State and al Qaeda that he used to recruit the others, the Interior Ministry said. The 31-year old pleaded guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors argued that while working in Singapore the four had formed an organization which they called the Islamic State (IS) of Bangladesh "with a view to joining ISIS," another acronym for IS.
Their stated aim was to overthrow the Bangladeshi government and establish a caliphate under Islamic State, Mizanur said.
Regarding Mizanur, District Judge Kessler Soh said a deterrent sentence and "much stiffer punishment is warranted. He was the mastermind. He was the one who started this whole outfit."
He was also was convicted of two charges of financing terrorism by inviting group members to contribute funds and handling the money.
"I wanted to learn my religion. [My friends] showed me the wrong way, the wrong activities," Mizanur said in court in English, as part of a lengthy mitigation plea. "This is my very big mistake sir. I am very remorseful."
The three other men convicted were Miah Rubel, Muhammad Jabath Kysar Haje Norul Islam Sowdagar, and Sohel Hawlader Ismail Hawlader, sentenced to two-and-a-half, two-and-a-half years and two years in jail, respectively.
The maximum sentence for financing terrorism is 10 years in jail and a fine of 500,000 Singapore dollars.
Two other men have pleaded not guilty and their trial dates have not been set.
jbh/rc (AP, dpa, AFP)