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ED closes in on Zakir Naik, moves application to declare him fugitive economic offender

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New Delhi, Sep 24: The Enforcement Directorate has moved an application before the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Court to declare controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik as an economic offender.

The plea would be taken up on September 30. The ED has so far attached properties worth Rs 50 crore belonging to Naik. The ED alleges that to conceal the origin of funds and real ownership of the properties, the initial payment from the account of Naik was diverted to the accounts of his wife, son and niece and rerouted again for making bookings in the name of family members rather than in his name.

ED closes in on Zakir Naik, moves application to declare himfugitive economic offender

The ED says that he had moved more than Rs 49 crore to bank accounts in India. "Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher who keeps travelling around the world to deliver speeches, does not have any known source of income through any known source of employment or business. Even in such a situation, he has managed to transfer Rs 49.20 crore to his Indian bank accounts," the ED said.

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    ED sources tell OneIndia that Naik's organisation, Islamic Research Foundation has received crores of Rupees from various persons. There are many who have donated in excess of Rs 50 crore and we are in touch with the banks to identify these donors, the ED official also said.

    He received crores of rupees for his speeches that spread hatred and incite Muslim youth to take up terrorism, the probe by the ED also found.

    The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Mumbai-based charity trust promoted and controlled by Naik, "allegedly received funds in the form of donations and zakat (a form of alms giving in Islam) from domestic as well as overseas donors from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Malaysia among others, the ED probe has also learnt.

    The probe further found that the IRF had maintained several bank accounts in which the funds would be deposited by donors. These bank accounts are held with Citi Bank, DCB Bank Ltd and Union Bank of India. Most of the amounts received by IRF are in the form of donations or zakat from domestic as well as overseas donors. The funds are received through banking channels, the ED probe further found.

    Most of the funds were used to conduct peace conferences. It was during these conferences that provocative speeches were made and religious conversion into Islam were encouraged.

    Naik is facing the heat from various agencies including the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged role in inciting Muslim youth to take up terrorism. Naik's name has cropped up several times since the Dhaka attack and those involved had said that it was his speeches that inspired them to take to terror. Recently Nashidul Hamzafar, a 26 year old management student from Kerala's Wayanad was arrested by the NIA after he became one of the first ISIS recruits to be deported from Afghanistan.

    During his interrogation, he details the role played by Islamic preachers such as Naik and what sort of an influence they had on him, which ultimately prompted him to join the ISIS. Hamzafar says that he was not attracted to the ISIS ideology for long.

    I found them to be too brutal and the outfit only scared me, he says. My ambition was to pursue my education and find a good job in Dubai. A lot changed when one of his friends, Shihas sent him an audio clip regarding the Islamic State. My perception towards the outfit changed.

    Then I began listening to audios of Zakir Naik, Noman Alikhan among others. Their speeches inspired me and my approach towards life changed.

    Going by his statements, it becomes clear that the likes of Zakir Naik through his Islamic Research Foundation and the Kerala based Peace Educational Foundation have played a huge role in the radicalisation of youth in Kerala.

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