Controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO funded an alleged Islamic State sympathiser who wanted to go to Syria to join the outfit, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said.
“Abu Anas, a native of Tonk in Rajasthan, had received Rs 80,000 as ‘scholarship’ from Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in October 2015,” said an agency spokesperson.
Anas, who was arrested from Hyderabad, has already been chargesheeted by the NIA. Sleuths came to know about the payment after scrutinising account books recovered from raids at over 20 IRF properties in Mumbai over a period of three days.
An NIA official said Anas withdrew small amounts of the money received from the IRF through ATMs. “We have reason to believe that Anas used the money for questionable activities. We will question him again to find out how he got the money. IRF office bearers will also be questioned in this regard,” he added.
The government has notified the IRF as unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. The agency has registered a case against Naik.
NIA officials said the raided properties belonged either to the IRF or its trustees. “During search operations, we recovered video tapes and DVDs of Naik’s public speeches, documents related to property and investments, financial transactions, foreign and domestic funding of the proscribed IRF as well as its associated companies, and electronic storage devices,” an agency statement read.
The agency said investigations have revealed that the IRF enjoys close links with firms like Harmony Media Private Limited, Longlast Constructions Private Limited, Right Property Solutions Private Limited, Majestic Perfumes Private Limited and Alpha Lubricants Private Limited. Some of these companies are associated with Naik’s Peace TV and its programming.
“Documents pertaining to the inflow and outflow of foreign and domestic funding have also been seized,” the agency added.