Anjem Choudary, Shami Witness and Zakir Nayek are three controversial Islamists who were followed by at least two of the five young militants who are suspected to have butchered 20 innocent people at Holey Artisan Bakery on Friday night.
One of the suspected attackers, Nibras Islam, 22, on Twitter in 2014 used to follow Anjem Choudary and Shami Witness — both of whom allegedly are Islamic State recruiters.
Another suspected killer Rohan Imtiaz, son of an Awami League leader, urged all Muslims to be terrorists in Facebook last year quoting Peace TV’s controversial preacher Zakir Nayek.
A British citizen of Pakistan origin, 49-year-old Anjem is now facing trial in England for breaking British anti-terrorism law. Shami Witness is the Twitter name of 24-year-old Mehdi Biswas of Bangalore in India, who is also facing trial for running propaganda for Islamic State.
Shami was arrested in December 2014 following an investigation into his Twitter account which was last active in August 2014. Anjem’s Twitter account became inactive from August 2015 after terror charges were brought against him.
A controversial figure also in his home country India, Zakir Nayek is banned in the UK, Canada and Malaysia. He has become popular among a section of people in Bangladesh through his Peace TV although his preaching often demeans other religions and even other Muslim sects.
This means that at least Nibras and Imtiaz did not become radicalised overnight. They have been consuming radical materials for one to two years before finally disappearing from their families back in February-March.
According to British media Channel 4 news, Shami Witness was charged by the police in India in June last year for operating the “single most influential pro-ISIS Twitter account”.
A news investigation by Channel 4 in 2014 exposed IT expert Mehdi Biswas as the owner of the Shami Witness account. Indian police arrested him in December that year on charges of running the Twitter account that was followed by two-thirds of all the foreign jihadis on Twitter according to research by ICSR at King’s College London.
On Twitter the City Crime Branch of Bengaluru City Police, India, said: “Charge Sheet against Mehdi Masroor Biswas is filed under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act; it contains 35,000 pages & 122,000 tweets.”
The 24-year-old office worker from Bangalore admitted to police that he ran the Twitter account and shut it down.
He is charged with supporting a terrorist organisation, waging war against the State, unlawful activities, conspiracy, sedition and promoting enmity, according to Joint Commissioner of Police M Chandrashekhar. The charges include aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation on Twitter.
His Twitter account says: I am a Muslim who believes that Islam is something we must believe in (Tawheed), live by (Shari’ah) and struggle and sacrifice for (by way of Daw’ah and Jihad).
Anjem Choudary was previously a solicitor and served as the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, and, until it was proscribed, the spokesman for Islam4UK.
According to Telegraph report on June 28, Anjem has gone on trial accused of terrorism offences.
The 49-year-old is charged alongside another man, Mohammed Rahman, 33, in connection with speeches posted on YouTube.
They were charged on 25 August 2015 with offences contrary to terrorism legislation over speeches that appeared on the internet. Both men deny the charges.
The charges relate to a string of social media posts made between June 29, 2014 and March 6 last year when it is alleged both Choudary and Rahman sought to validate the legitimacy of the “Caliphate”.
The pair has also been accused of urging others to support or obey Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the brutal terror group Islamic State.
Choudary also allegedly told supporters to travel to territory controlled by the barbaric regime in Syria and Iraq.
Anjem helped form al-Muhajiroun, an anti-western organisation which was eventually banned by British government. He also founded Al Ghurabaa, which too was banned. Sitting in London, Anjem generated controversies by praising those responsible for the US Twin Tower attack of September 11, 2001. He supports implementation of Sharia Law in UK.
Dr Zakir Nayek
Zakir Naik is a popular Islamic orator and founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation. He is termed as an authority on comparative religion and seen as “perhaps the most influential Salafi ideologue in India”.
Zakir is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions and all Muslim sects except the Sunni followers.
Zakir is also among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. But in April he visited Malaysia to attend a conference prompting various rights activists to protest.
Malayonline on April 17 in a report from Malaysia said that 40 Malaysian- Indian groups signed a resolution urging the government to ban Dr Zakir Naik from entering Malaysia again, claiming he posed a threat to national security.
“He’s noted for mocking Hinduism and making disparaging remarks about other religions and various sects in Islam,” observes a Malaysian rights organisation Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Chairman P Waythamoorthy on April 17.
Hindraf has demanded the Government of Malaysia immediately cancel the upcoming programmes of “deviant foreign preacher” Zakir Naik and refuse his entry into Malaysia.
Source: The daily star