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Singapore jails Indonesian maids for funding terrorism

Three accused of donating money to Islamic State-affiliated groups, supporters

Singapore jails Indonesian maids for funding terrorism

Newly arrived domestic helpers from Indonesia wait to be taken to a maid agency in Singapore after going through a medical check. Three Indonesian maids have been jailed in the city-state for funding terrorism. (Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP)

A court in Singapore has jailed three Indonesian maids after finding them guilty of funding terrorism.

Anindia Afiyantari was sentenced to two years on March 5, while Retno Heriyani, 36, and Turmini, 31, were sentenced to 18 months and 36 months respectively on Feb. 12.

All three were accused of sending money to supporters of the Islamic State (IS) group in violation of the country’s Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

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“The three were found guilty on charges of transferring funds to support the activity of forbidden organizations suspected of having links to terrorism,” Ratna Lestari Harjana, head of the social and cultural information desk at the Indonesian embassy in Singapore, said in a statement on March 7.

Singaporean authorities arrested Hernayani and Turmini in August last year, while Afiyantari was arrested in September. They had been working in Singapore for between six and 13 years.

The three were reportedly radicalized last year after watching online propaganda about the terror group and joining pro-IS chat groups.

All three were supporters of IS-linked Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terror group that has been blamed for various terror attacks in Indonesia.

Heriyani sent at least S$140 (US$101) and Turmini gave S$1,217 to a ‘charitable organization’ in Indonesia which was suspected to finance terrorism, while Afiyantari sent S$130 to two similar ‘charitable organizations,’ Harjana said.

The money was sent to Indonesian contacts between September 2018 and July 2019, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported.

The Indonesian government says it is investigating exactly where the money was sent and would prosecute the women after they have served their sentences in Singapore.

"We are coordinating with the Singaporean authorities to extradite and try them at home following their release because they have funded terrorists that can threaten Indonesia," Donny Gahral Adian, a presidential adviser, told reporters on March 7.

Stanilaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said migrant workers have increasingly become one of the main sources through which terror groups raise funds. 

It's likely dozens of Indonesian maids working in other countries such as Hong Kong and Malaysia are sending money to support terrorism.

“Lines of communication are very easy. It is also easy for terrorists to indoctrinate migrant workers to support their cause,” Riyanta told UCA News.

He called for better monitoring of the activities of Indonesian nationals, particularly vulnerable groups such as domestic helpers.  

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