The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has taken over the case registered by the Mumbai police against four people, including an employee of Dr Zakir Naik’s Islamic Reseach Foundation (IRF), for allegedly persuading a 26-year-old Kerala resident, Ashfaque Majeed, and his wife to join ISIS.
The NIA registered a fresh case on Tuesday against the four - Maulana Haneef, Abdul Rashid Abdula, Arshid Qureshi alias Arshi and Rizwan Khan. Haneef is a Maulvi from Kerala and Abdula, also from Kerala, is an employee of Peace International School. While Arshid is a guest relation officer of Dr Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Rizwan is a maulvi from Kalyan.
Nagpada police had booked the four on August 8, under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act following a statement by Ashfaque’s father, Abdul Majeed Kadar Khan, who said the four influenced his son to join ISIS. He also alleged that Ashfaque was in regular contact with the suspects and before escaping from India to join ISIS, he came to Mumbai and met Arshid and Rizwan.
The case was transferred to the Mumbai crime branch for investigation and soon a police team went to Kerala and arrested Maulana Haneef from Kannur on August 13, and later also took custody of Arshid and Rizwan from Kerala police.
While the Mumbai police was investigating the case, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification to transfer the case to NIA. “Some of the accused of the said case are also accused in other similar cases being investigated by NIA in the state of Kerala and these cases are intricately connected to each other,” reads the notification.
The NIA has been investigating the case of conversion of a Christian family to Islam and their radicalisation to join ISIS. The family was part of a group, of which Ashfaque was member.
In his statement, Ashfaque’s father has alleged that his son’s behaviour started changing after his cousin, Dr Ejaz Rehman, returned to Kerala after completing his MBBS from China. The duo used to visit a local mosque where Haneef used to radicalise youths. Khan also told crime branch that his son used to meet his childhood friends, and they mostly discussed Quran and its interpretations.
Khan has alleged that his son had formed a group of 11 persons and named it as ‘Mujaheedin.’ He further alleged that Haneef along with Arshid and Rizwan were responsible for his son Ashfaque getting radicalised and joining ISIS along with at least 21 other Muslim youths in Kerala.