Arshi Qureshi, a guest relations officer with the banned Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), radicalised Ashfak Majeed, one of several young men who left India to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group in 2015, at meetings he used to conduct at IRF’s Dongri centre, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed in its charge sheet, filed on Thursday.
NIA’s 4,000-page charge sheet against Qureshi was based on a complaint filed by Ashfak’s father Abdul Khan, a businessman from Nagpada. Khan had alleged in his complaint that his son had been radicalised by Qureshi; Mohammad Haneef, a maulavi from Kerala; and Rizwan Khan, another suspect in the case. It is alleged that apart from Ashfak, the accused radicalised 21 other young men from Kerala who allegedly went on to join ISIS.
Khan alleged that the accused also helped his son and the others flee India to join ISIS. The agency did not include Haneef and Khan in the charge sheet, saying the investigation against them is still in progress. It does, however, name Abdul Rashid Abdulla as a wanted accused as he allegedly left India to join ISIS after influencing other youngsters.
In its charge sheet, the NIA accused Qureshi of misusing his position in IRF to influence people of other faith to embrace Islam. “Investigation has established that Qureshi was using his official position in IRF to influence people from other religions to embrace Islam. He used to selectively pick practices and rituals of other religions to compare with Islam and during the process used to motivate them for Hijrah (Haj). He used to tell them that Hijrat is the duty of every Muslim. These teachings influenced Ashfaq, Bestin alias Yashia, and Marrin alias Mariyam to leave their homes, later to join ISIS,” read the charge sheet.
The agency claimed that Ashfak met Qureshi while he was in Mumbai. “Ashfak used to give reference of Qureshi to youths from his village as the authority on Islam and a guide to follow true Islam. He also used to give reference of Sunday meetings held at IRF’s Dongri officer in Mumbai to young people of his village. Soon Ashfak came under the influence of Qureshi. Ashfak, Shihas, Hafesudheen, Bestin alias Yahia, his wife Merrin alias Mariyam, Bexen alias Isa used to visit IRF office at Dongri as well as residence of Qureshi at Vashi, Navi Mumbai in the year 2014-2015,” the agency’s charge sheet claimed.