The National Investigation Agency on Monday claimed that most of the 127 people arrested from 14 states for their alleged links to the Islamic State terrorist group were inspired by preacher Zakir Naik, ANI reported. Some of them were also radicalised by the mastermind of the Easter Day blasts in Sri Lanka, said NIA Inspector-General Alok Mittal.

“In three of these ISIS cases from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the accused have admitted that they were radicalised by Zahran Hashim’s videos,” Mittal said at an event in Delhi. “Hashim, as we know, is the mastermind of the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka.” He added that a case was registered against Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation after the men arrested admitted to being inspired by his videos.

Mittal made the comments at the inaugural event of a two-day national conference of the chiefs of anti-terrorism squads and special task forces.

Among the accused with suspected links to Islamic State, 33 were arrested from Tamil Nadu, 19 from Uttar Pradesh, 17 from Kerala, 14 from Telangana, 12 from Maharashtra, eight from Karnataka, and seven from the national capital. The rest were arrested from other states, including Bihar, Gujarat, and West Bengal, according to Hindustan Times.

Both the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have been on the lookout for Naik since allegations surfaced that he inspired one of the terrorists involved in an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. The same year, his Islamic Research Foundation was banned in India. In August, he was banned from making public speeches in Malaysia, where he has taken refuge.

The expansion of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen

National Investigation Agency chief YC Modi said the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh was attempting to expand its operations in states such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Maharashtra by pretending to be immigrants from Bangladesh. “The NIA has shared with states concerned a list of 125 suspected activists who have close links with the JMB leadership,” PTI quoted him as saying.

However, Mittal said the list comprised 130 names. He added that the JMB had established 20 to 22 hideouts in Bengaluru and attempted to operate in several areas in South India. “The JMB even conducted a trial of rocket launchers in the Krishnagiri hills along the Karnataka border,” he claimed. The Islamist organisation first started its operations in West Bengal and Assam in 2007, he added.

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