Mumbai police are probing a pan-nation network which facilitated supply of foot soldiers for the IS from across the country. The arrest of Mohammed Haneef, a young asatizah (religious teacher) from Peringathur in Kannur, last week put the police on the trail of at least a dozen youths who could have fled the country after being radicalised for IS-controlled territories in the Middle East.
Currently, Mumbai police's Crime Branch is investigating whether Haneef was a recruiter for IS and if he had programmed willing youths for embracing jihadi militancy. Also, the probe focuses on determining how many young boys Haneef succeeded in shaping for jihad.
In fact, the Mumbai police caught on to Haneef after a boy's father lodged a complaint against him with the Nagpada police in Mumbai. Police officials said the boy, Asfaque, disappeared without a trace after his brief “tryst” with Haneef. A senior Crime Branch official probing the matter said that Haneef was into "recruiting” people for IS through a scattered network. Haneef, investigators said, told them that he was obeying a “deeper plan” and following a “calling.”
After the arrests of Rizwan Khan and Arshi Quereshi, members of controversial preacher Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in Dongri, the Mumbai police stepped in on the activities of the Kannur-based Haneef .
Police are verifying the alleged meeting between Haneef, Khan and Quereshi, which took place in Mumbai and in at least two places in Kerala. Naik himself is in the eye of storm after the attackers of the July 2016 Dhaka siege claimed they were inspired and goaded to act by his teachings. He is also under the scanner over the sources of his funds. The fall-out of this investigation could have a bearing on the activities of the IRF which has been under spotlight for all the wrong reasons.