The Mumbai crime branch investigating the radicalisation case suspect that 32-year-old Abdul Rasheed Abdullah, a teacher of Peace International School in Calicut, was ISIS’ point man in Kerala. They suspect he was in touch with ISIS handlers directly.
Abdullah, a native of Trikaripur in Kasaragod district, allegedly played a key role in identifying the 21 men — mostly from the same or neighbouring villages — who were later indoctrinated with Salafi preachings and induced to join ISIS. The group was last traced to the Afghanistan border, said police sources.
The funds required to book air tickets were arranged for by Arshi Qureshi, guest relationship manager of Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Rizwan Khan and Mohammad Haneef – both preachers and Abdullah, who is part of the group that has allegedly joined ISIS, the probe revealed.
The crime branch is investigating the chain of funds to determine the source of the money. The police suspect that either Qureshi, Khan or Haneef paid for group’s air tickets from Kerala to Dubai. As Khan and Haneef are not well-off financially, investigators suspect that it was Qureshi.
“The source of the funds is yet to be established. There needs to be greater clarity at whose behest the monetary help was provided,” said a police officer.
Hindustan Times had reported that Qureshi sponsored trips to Sri Lanka for Ashfaq — one of the 21 missing men — and his family. Ashfaq had been to Sri Lanka twice to study the Quran there.
All transactions were carried out in cash to avoid leaving a paper trail, said officials.
Officials said they were still verifying details of transactions carried out from the accused’s bank accounts. A team of the crime branch returned from Kerala late on Tuesday after recording the statements of the missing people’s family and friends. The investigators are trying to ascertain the missing people’s relationship with Qureshi, Khan, Haneef and Abdullah. They have asked the missing people’s families if they knew of money being received by radicalised youth.
The crime branch will conduct a joint interrogation of Haneef, Qureshi and Khan, whose custody will end on Thursday. Haneef’s is currently in judicial custody.
Haneef, who was based in Kerala, met Khan as both of them are preachers. Khan, a native of Tamil Nadu, had been staying in Kerala for several years before coming to Mumbai.