Japan alerted to Zakir Naik’s NGO operations near Tokyo

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PETALING JAYA: India’s intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies have alerted Japan of the clandestine operations conducted by a banned NGO run by fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik near Tokyo.

The Times Now news channel reported yesterday that New Delhi’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had become aware of a radical conversion centre that Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) ran with the help of his Japanese associate.

It said the Indian government had directed RAW and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is focused on combating terror, to present all related documents and other evidence that had been gathered during a year-long probe on Naik.

New Delhi is keen to share the intelligence with the Japanese government with whom India has an “extraordinary cooperation on the security front”, the report said.

According to Times Now internal security editor Nikunj Garg, Naik was in Tokyo converting Japanese citizens before the terror attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1 last year.

The strike by Islamic militants at a café in an upscale quarter of Dhaka left 24 victims killed and 50 others injured.

Three of the terrorists in the incident were reported to have been influenced by Naik who was recorded to have proclaimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”.

Garg said the Indian authorities had been caught off guard by the activities of the IRF when the attack took place.

“There have been alarm bells going on (about Naik and IRF) since 2008. But it took the Dhaka café attack in 2016 (for the authorities) to actually act with real alacrity and alertness,” he said.

“India does not want a friendly country to again become a victim of the machinations of Zakir Naik and his NGO, and therefore we want to alert the Japanese with the full force of the evidence that we have gathered. And this is what we are in the process of doing,” he added.

Japan had on Friday declared strong support for India in its two-month-long standoff against incursions by the Chinese army at the Himalayan border near Sikkim.

Garg said IRF’s modus operandi was to draw Japanese citizens into its fold through monetary inducement, indoctrination and “other allurements”.

“So we wish to sensitise them (Japanese authorities) with the findings that the NIA has done on this organisation and this man so that they are aware of the insidious nature of this organisation’s workings and they are not caught by surprise like India was,” he said.

In March this year, the Delhi High Court had upheld the Indian government’s decision to ban the IRF, saying it was to safeguard national security. The organisation is also banned in the US and several European countries.

Naik, who was awarded permanent resident status by Malaysia, is wanted for questioning in India over money-laundering and terrorism-related crimes.

The Mumbai-based preacher had fled the country after a suspect in the Dhaka attack said he was influenced by his speeches. New Delhi has since revoked his passport.

The NIA had in May written to Interpol asking that a red-corner notice be issued against Naik. This would mean that he would be officially declared an international fugitive and police in any country would be authorised to arrest him.

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