In a joint operation carried out by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and the Kerala Police, Muhammad Haneef, a cleric who allegedly radicalised 21 youths from the southern state to join the globally banned terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS), was taken into custody Saturday.
Haneef, who is from Kambalakkad in Wayanad district, was picked up from Peringathur in Kerala. He is being grilled over allegations of conducting lectures for promoting religious extremism and radicalising youth in his state to join terror outfits such as the IS. Haneef’s arrest follows a case registered by the Mumbai Police in which he was named as one of the accused.
On August 6, based on a complaint filed by the father of Ashfaque Ahmed, one of the 21 missing Kerala youths, the Mumbai Police registered a case against Arshi Qureshi, guest relationship manager with controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Rizwan Khan, a volunteer with Al-Birr Foundation, Abdullah Rashid, a local imam, and Haneef under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the IPC. The complainant had accused the four of radicalising his son to join the IS.
The Kerala Police, probing a similar case filed by the brother of one Merin alias Mariyam, who is among the 21 youths who fled the country, had arrested Qureshi and Khan in July.
“Haneef is an important link to unearth the IS network operating in India. He is being quizzed on his role and also on the involvement of the other accused and those who are wanted in the case. We have leads that Haneef had radicalised 12 of the 21 youths,” said a senior official privy to the developments in the case.