New Delhi, June 29: India's tryst to extradite controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik would continue. On Friday, foreign minister, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah confirmed the receipt of India's formal extradition request for Zakir Naik.
He however said that the government is maintaining its refusal to deport the controversial Naik to India. For now there is no new decision. We are sticking to the original decision, he said.
It may be recalled that the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad had also said that Malaysia could decline India's request for extradition. In another development in Malaysia last week, PAS youth showed support for Naik, during its annual Congress. The PAS had earlier hailed Malaysia's decision to protect Zakir Naik.
Malaysia has since the past one year said that it had no intention to extradite Naik, who is wanting in India for a series of crimes.
Officials in India tell OneIndia that these developments are upsetting, but all hope is not lost. The investigations and trials in the cases against Naik continue and we will continue to press for his extradition, the official said while pointing to the extradition treaty with Malaysia.
The decision to defend Naik falls well within the lines of the Islamic police that Malaysia follows. The statement from PAS makes it clear that Malaysia was only protecting an Islamic preacher from becoming a victim of oppression and tyranny.
When Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad came to power, India's hopes had been raised as he spoke about curbing Islamic terror with an iron fist. India believed that he would instantly deport Naik and with an extradition treaty on hand, it would have been a mere formality.
However it appears now that the radical Islamic bug has hit Mahathir as well. Observers suggest that he may be under immense pressure from both the radical Islamic lobby in his country who had helped Naik enter Malaysia and even get a Permanent Residency status. The Saudi interference in this matter is also not ruled out as the country backs Naik's Wahhabi styled Islam.
Mahathir while denying the extradition said that he would continue to remain in Malaysia as long as he does not pose a threat. However the problem with Naik is that through his speeches he can influence millions of Muslims across the world to take up arms as was seen in the terror incident at Bangladesh where one of the terrorists said he was inspired by Naik.
An officer with the National Investigation Agency says that during the various probes they have conducted, the Zakir Naik stamp on radicals is immense. Be it the Islamic State case or the recent one relating to the PFI, they thrive on his literature to further their agenda.
In November 2016, the NIA had found that an ISIS recruit, Abu Anas had received an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh towards scholarship. During the first round of the investigation, the NIA had found that an amount of Rs 80,000 had been given by the Dr Zakir Naik run, Islamic Research Foundation to Anas.
However, while probing deeper another transaction of Rs 70,000 to Anas had been found.
Investigators say that the total amount given to Anas in two transactions amounted to Rs 1,50,000.
The case of Anas is interesting. Radicalised and determined he decided to give up his job as an engineer to take the ISIS path. The NIA says that it may not be a mere coincidence. The two incidents could well be related. It is a well known fact that several terrorists have confessed they were inspired by Zakir Naik's speeches. By taking a scholarship a person become indebted to an organisation. This could have been a turning point for Anas.
A case as recent as June 2018 suggested that a Hindu Munani spokesperson Sasi Kumar was killed by members of the PFI who were high on Naik literature. During investigation, NIA conducted searches at the houses of 4 accused persons and recovered PFI donation receipts, PFI literature, PFI Unity March CDs, mobile phones, Compact Disks and pen drives, DVD of Zakir Naik of Islamic Research Foundation and other incriminating documents relating to PFI.
In its response to the Interpol, India had made it clear that Naik was not being targeted because of his religion, but for terror. Further India also said that Naik's NGO Islamic Research Foundation had been banned by the Government and the same was upheld by the tribunal. He had funded a few terror suspects through his NGO and hence he needs to be questioned in that connection, the NIA also told the Interpol.
Officials say that Malaysia needs to tread carefully on this issue. Naik will continue to speak in his own subtle way while inciting several radical Muslims across the world. With a proximity to Indonesia and Southern Thailand, which are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism, the presence of Naik in Malaysia could only make matters worse. Indian officials say that Naik's presence could increase attempts at indoctrination and this could make matters worse in Malaysia.