Maid in Singapore jailed for financing terrorism and supporting the Islamic State group
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An Indonesian woman working as a maid in Singapore supported the terrorist group Islamic State and its Indonesian-based affiliate, Jemaah Anshaut Daulah (JAD), uploading videos of bombings and killings to social media and donating money to the cause.
Anindia Afiyantari, 32, was jailed for two years on Thursday (Mar 5) for three counts of financing terrorism, for a total of S$130 she had contributed to the terror groups. Another two charges were taken into consideration.
She is the third Indonesian maid to be sentenced in this case: Retno Hernayani was jailed last month for one-and-a-half years and Turmini was jailed for three years and nine months.
The court heard that Anindia was working as a domestic worker in Singapore at the time of the offences, earning about S$600 a month.
She was friends with co-accused Retno, 37, and two other 33-year-old Indonesian maids named Yulistika and Nurhasanah. Yulistika and Nurhasanah left Singapore before investigations began and have not returned to the country.
Anindia first learnt about JAD in 2009 or 2010, when she watched a news programme about a radical cleric who was arrested for his involvement in a military training camp in Aceh, Indonesia.
She continued to follow JAD news through her friends in Indonesia, but found friends in Singapore with similar ideologies when she befriended Yulistika, who introduced her to Nurhasanah and Retno.
The four maids identified with the ideologies of Islamic State and JAD, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo.
Anindia was introduced to related Telegram group chats and channels, and started browsing information about Islamic State and its violence and killings.
She began uploading the information she gleaned onto her Facebook accounts, intending to spread Islamic State ideologies.
She uploaded videos depicting the bombing and killing of people by Islamic State, and created fresh accounts whenever her accounts were blocked by Facebook. Her multiple accounts were eventually all banned.
As she read more online and met up with her friends, Anindia’s interest in the terrorism groups grew, as she felt her thoughts and beliefs aligned with theirs.
For example, she identified with JAD’s use of physical violence against the Indonesian government in order to establish the Islamic law in Indonesia. She also supported suicide bombings because they could kill more “enemies of Islam”, court documents said.
By mid-2018, Anindia was fully supportive of the two terror groups. JAD, an Indonesian extremist network responsible for recent terrorist attacks and foiled plots in Indonesia, has been banned by the Indonesian government.
However, JAD financed its activities through “religious charities” which conduct donation drives publicised on social media.
Anindia donated to two of these charities, remitting S$50 directly to one charity and S$80 through her friends Retna and Yulistika.
The prosecution pushed for two years’ jail, noting that Anindia was part of the first group of maids working in Singapore to be charged and convicted of terrorism financing.
They said that terrorism threats are a top security concern in Singapore, and that a strong message must be sent to deter like-minded individuals who want to support terrorism through financial means.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Hsiao Tien said Anindia carried out the offences in a deliberate fashion and had a history of radicalisation, with an escalation in her conduct over five months.
Defence lawyer Nasser Ismail asked instead for 20 months’ jail, saying that his client had cooperated with authorities from the day she was detained.
He added that the primary motivating factor that made Anindia donate the cash was the pictures and articles she saw about the family members – wives and children – of those in Islamic State and JAD.
District Judge Ong Luan Tze said: “I’m afraid that in Singapore we cannot tolerate any form of assistance to terrorism and I agree that … deterrence must apply with uncompromising force in your case.”
For each count of financing terrorism, Anindia could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum of S$500,000, or both.