Cops checking numbers found in Kerala cleric Haneef’s phone

  • Saurabh M Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 18, 2016 10:32 IST

The crime branch is verifying a list of numbers found in Kerala cleric Mohammad Haneef’s phone, which was seized during his arrest in a joint operation with the Kerala police last week. Investigators said that they have sent the phone for forensic analysis to ascertain the activities that it was used for and will try to retrieve text messages from the handset.

Haneef, 26, is accused of persuading youngsters from Kerala to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and was alleged to be touch with operatives of the terror outfit through Internet phone calling, the police had said.

The crime intelligence unit (CIU) of crime branch is interrogating Haneef, who is in police custody till Saturday. Officials learnt that Haneef has been preaching Salafism for almost a decade now. After completing his lessons from a madrassa, he started preaching.

The police suspect Haneef to be a vital link between the radicalisation network thriving in northern Kerala belt and its Mumbai connection. While Haneef has denied knowing Islamic Research Foundation’s (IRF) guest relation officer Arshi Qureshi and Mumbai based preacher Rizwan Khan, officials differ. Qureshi and Khan are also accused in the case registered with the Mumbai police.

The complainant, Abdul Majeed Kadar Khan, 60, told the police in his complaint that his son Ashfaque had joined ISIS after being indoctrinated by Haneef, Qureshi and Khan whom he had met in Kerala and in Mumbai over the period of last two years. Ashfaque went missing in June this year.

“When in Kerala and in Mumbai, Ashfaque used to tell his father that he was going to meet these three people and as per our probe, they knew each other and their activities well. The Kerala police custody of Qureshi and Khan will lapse on Thursday and we will move in for their transit remand to conduct a joint interrogation to prove that wrong,” said a crime branch officer.

The crime branch is also scrutinising a bank account belonging to Haneef. “Though the monetary balance in the account is less, we have sought details of the fund trail and its source,” added the officer.

Haneef had been preaching at Kasaragod district and later moved to Kannur. Though he has claimed of better pay for the switch, officials suspect the change of location was part of larger conspiracy involving Qureshi, Khan and Haneef.

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