Admitting the growing presence of Daesh (Islamic State) in the country; India’s apex terror investigative body National Investigative Agency (NIA) said on Monday, that the agency had arrested at least 127 people and has a list of as many suspects to be arrested shortly.
The accused in a majority of the Daesh cases were radicalised by watching videos made by Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik, according to the NIA.
“To date, the NIA has arrested a total of 127 people from different parts of the country in connection with ISIS ties. The largest number of people were arrested in Tamil Nadu (33), Uttar Pradesh (19), Kerala (17), Telangana (14), Maharashtra (12), Karnataka (8) and Delhi (7),” NIA chief Yogesh Chandra said on Monday.
A total of 125 suspects trying to spread their wings in Bihar, Maharashtra and Kerala are on the radar, he added.
Based on the interrogation of several of the accused, it was confirmed that one of the common factors in the radicalisation of these persons was Naik, another senior NIA official claimed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently held a long discussion with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir bin Mohamad on the need to extradite the controversial preacher, who has been facing trial for fueling extremism. The meet took place in the Russian city of Vladivostok last month.
Naik, 53, fled India after being charged with spreading hatred as well as for money laundering and funding terror in the aftermath of the Holey Artisan Bakery explosion in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 1 July 2016, which claimed 29 lives.
Investigations into the terror attack in Dhaka revealed the terrorists involved in the brutal killings were influenced by Naik.
Naik also controversially described the 9/11 World Trade Centre, Philadelphia, and the Pentagon terror attacks in the US in 2001 as an “inside job”.
Currently residing in Malaysia, Naik drew authorities’ attention this August, after he made controversial remarks against the country’s Hindus and Chinese during an event in the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu, prompting calls for his deportation to India.
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs had denied the presence of Daesh (Islamic State) in the country for many years, claiming that peace-loving Indian Muslims would not be attracted to the terror outfit. India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia