Six men, part of an Islamic State (IS)-inspired group, who were arrested from Kerala on October 2, have told their interrogators that though they closely followed controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and another Kerala-based preacher, M.M Akbar, their speeches did not have much influence on them.
Investigators found several video clips on the mobile phones and laptops of the six accused containing the speeches of Naik and Akbar. Both preachers have been accused of radicalising people through their fiery speeches.
A senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) spokesperson said all six accused were Salafis (followers of the puritanical form of Islam) and this was the common thread that brought them together.
“They were closely following the speeches of Naik and Akbar but told us that they were hardly influenced by them. They said the preachers spoke not only about Islam but other topics as well and theirs was one of the many speeches they [the group] followed,” said a senior home ministry official.
The six accused first created a blog post in Malayalam called ‘muhajiroun2015. wordpress.com’ but it was blocked by the security agencies. “Once it was blocked, the accused then created another blog called ‘muhajiroun2016. wordpress.com’ and used to share their views on IS,” said the official.
The NIA said the accused were inspired by the IS and had assembled at a hilltop in Kannur to plan attacks against key politicians in Kerala and Tamil Nadu when they were apprehended.
The arrests were made soon after one of the accused, Manseed alias Omar al Hindi (30), a Kerala resident, who had been working in Qatar, made an unscheduled visit to India in the last week of September.
“Manseed told us that he did not have a regular job in Qatar. He had been going there for the past six years on a tourist visa and doing odd jobs. He says he decided to come back to India all of a sudden as he had got a regular job there and wanted to return on a proper work visa,” said an NIA official.
The accused had been on the radar of the security agencies for the past four months. The others — Abu Basheer (29) alias Rasheed is a mechanic, Swalih Mohammed T. (26) works at Club Mahindra in Chennai, Safwan P (30) works as a designer for a newspaper, Jasim NK (25), an engineer and Ramshad (24) is an accountant.