Zakir Naik case: Mumbai police closes in on preacher as single link remains to be established

Investigating agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), and the crime branch and special team of the Mumbai Police are very close to the pointing fingers at controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. The controversial preacher's speeches and videos have allegedly influenced many terrorist outfit such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), the Islamic State (IS) and Indian Mujahideen, highly-placed sources told Firstpost.

"The investigation is almost over," said a senior official, who is closely monitoring the case, and added, "But we are just waiting for the probe into a possible link where Naik was directly contacted by someone from the Islamic State, to be completed. So we will wait till the link is established."  The report will be handed over to the home minister and Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis in the next two to three days, he said.

File image of Zakir Naik. YouTube screen grab

File image of Zakir Naik. YouTube screen grab

The ATS, crime branch and Mumbai police commissioner Datta Padsalgikar are closely monitoring the Naik case. Neither the SIT nor CID has given a clean chit to Naik, the senior official added.

When asked for a comment, Padsalgikar said, "The investigation is ongoing, we have not yet submitted a report to the chief minister. And I cannot say any more than that."

The senior official to whom Firstpost spoke also pointed out that Arib Majeed, the youth who travelled to Syria told the NIA in a statement that he was personally influenced by Naik's speech and joined the Islamic State. Majeeb's statement has compounded the trouble and pressure for Naik in the future.

Pointing fingers at the controversial Islamic preacher, security agencies have now come up with a list of 55 terror accused, who have been arrested from across the country over the past 10 years and have claimed to be influenced by Naik’s speeches.

Recently, Naik came into the limelight after two of the Dhaka café attackers who slaughtered 20 hostages claimed to have drawn inspiration from Naik’s speeches.

The agencies are also probing the details of different cases registered against Naik in India in the past. While one FIR is still pending in court, investigations are still on in three other cases in Maharashtra's Konkan region.

Commenting on the allegations levelled against him while addressing a press conference via video conferencing in Mumbai recently, Naik said, “I have heard many allegations against me in the Indian media. As far as being afraid is concerned, I am not afraid at all. So far, there has been not a single Indian government authority which has called me. Just because the media has levelled allegations against me, I am not going to come to India for a media trial."

Sources in the agencies told Firstpost that Feroze Deshmukh, a former Islamic Research Foundation employee who was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS for his alleged role in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case. But later, due to a lack of evidence, he was freed by the court. But Feroze has constantly been in touch with the mastermind of the 26 November, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai Abu Jundal. So, while analysing Naik's 'role' in terrorist activities, investigating agencies might taking Jundal's statement, said the senior official.

Arshid Qureshi — arrested by a joint team of the Maharashtra ATS and Kerala Police two weeks ago, under the the charges of radicalising Kerala youths and recruiting them for the Islamic State — has been confirmed by the Kerala Police of not only having Islamic State links, but also of being a member of Mumbai-based preacher Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).

The confirmation came in a report filed (before the Ernakulam Principal Sessions Court last Monday) by the police team probing the disappearance of 21 people from the state in suspicious circumstances, while seeking the custody of Qureshi and his associate Rizwan Khan.

It’s an exhaustive exercise involving a large team, which is carefully watching and listening all of Naik’s speeches, and looking at the activities at Naik’s IRF in Mumbai, and the Mumbai and Chennai branches of the Islamic International School run by him, said the official.

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Updated Date: Aug 01, 2016 14:08 PM

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