Zakir Naik's speeches inspired majority of 127 held for ISIS links: NIA

Fake Indian currency being sourced from Pakistan is also a matter of huge concern

Zakir-Naik-Interview Zakir Naik | Sanjay Ahlawat

The threat from Islamic radicalisation and preachers like Zakir Naik is being seen as the biggest challenge for anti-terror agencies across the country with the National Investigation Agency(NIA), on Monday, saying that majority of 127 ISIS terror suspects arrested by the agency claim to have been inspired by Naik’s speeches. Naik’s activities had been banned by India after the 2016 Dhaka terror attack, after which he left the country to take permanent citizenship in Malaysia. However, the NIA has strongly been pursuing his case making efforts to secure his extradition. The NIA also drew attention to tentacles being spread by Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) banned by India after the deadly Dhaka terror attacks. 

The JMB, which was declared a banned terror outfit, has continued to make attempts to recruit new operatives within the country prompting the NIA to raise a red flag with the anti-terrorism squads of all states. The NIA has shared a list of 125 suspects of JMB with all states and Union territories after it was noticed that JMB was spreading its activities in states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. NIA officials said the JMB suspects operate in the guise of Bangladeshi immigrants.

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The Bangladesh Police, which had launched a probe to unravel the conspiracy hatched by JMB for the terror attacks, has been coordinating with the NIA to connect the dots. Investigations have revealed that JMB had set up bases along the Indo-Bangladesh border and had plans to spread its tentacles to South India. On Monday, Inspector General of the NIA Alok Mittal said the JMB has set up 20-22 hideouts in Bengaluru and tried to spread its bases in South India between 2014-18. It had even conducted a trial of rocket launchers in the Krishnagiri hills along the Karnataka border. The JMB was using the plight of the Rohingya Muslims to justify their activities and investigations revealed that the outfit was planning to attack Buddhist temples.

On the one hand, the JMB was proving to be a challenge for counter-terror agencies and on the other hand, Islamic radicalisation by preachers like Naik continues to be a source of headache for Indian law enforcement agencies that have busted several ISIS modules across the country. Out of the arrests carried by the NIA in ISIS-related terror cases, 33 accused belong to Tamil Nadu followed by Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi.

As radicalisation of youth has spread across from north to southern states, ATS chiefs are being sensitised to the biggest threat from radicalisation. The ATS chiefs who gathered in the capital for the first time in five years for a meet organised by the NIA also took note of the huge threat from the fake Indian currency being sourced from Pakistan by the terror outfits getting support from across the border. The high-quality FICN was being used by Pakistan to sponsor terror acts, said NIA chief YC Modi who had closed-door discussions with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and anti-terror chiefs of all states.

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The concerns about terror financing in Jammu and Kashmir remained a matter of concern with the NIA revealing that the J&K bank's systemic weaknesses have been exploited for terror funding activities which has in turn been used to carry out subversive activities in the state. In recent months, 72 places have been raided and over a thousand documents seized besides electronic devices which are under NIA investigation in its cases that have named top separatist leaders and Pakistan terror masterminds like Hafiz Saeed.

Doval said that the biggest pressure has come on Pakistan through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering. The FATF has begun its meeting in Paris on Monday and is most likely to impose restrictions on Pakistan by putting it in the blacklist or grey list. ''Pakistan has been using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. In the present context no country can afford to go for war as the financial and human costs are huge and no one is sure of victory...'' he said. Doval said terrorism is a lost cost sustainable option which may damage enemies to a great extent. It may be recalled that Pakistan was placed on the grey list by FATF last year and had been asked to give a plan on the action by October this year which will now determine whether it gets a clean chit or is placed on the blacklist with countries like North Korea.