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Were Suspected ISIS Members From Kerala Inspired by Zakir Naik?

The families fear that the youths were radicalised after having gone to the Middle East for religious studies.

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Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik allegedly influenced Kerala youth who went missing to join ISIS. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube screengrab)

Essa and Yahiya, the two brothers from Kerala who are suspected to have left the country to join ISIS, used to meet Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, their family claimed on Monday, as reported by The Indian Express.

My sons used to visit Naik when they were students a few years ago. Once, they also took their brother-in-law to meet Naik in Mumbai and get him converted to Islam. But the conversion did not take place because their brother-in-law objected to it.
Vincent, Father

The two brothers fled the country along with their wives, Nimisha and Merlin.

Nimisha, who is also suspected to have joined ISIS, could also have been inspired by Naik.

Bindu Kumar, the mother of Nimisha, said that her daughter used to listen to videos of Naik’s speeches.

“After she had gone missing, one of her friends told me that she used to watch Naik’s videos and that she was turning more and more religious.”
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Kerala Youths Who Joined ISIS Converted to Islam

At least 21 youths from Kerala’s Kasaragod and Palakkad districts who had travelled to the Middle East had gone missing for the last one month and their families suspect they may have joined the ISIS.

Five out of these 21 missing youths converted to Islam from Hinduism and Christianity about a year ago, reports indicated on Saturday.

While one of those missing is suspected to be in Afghanistan, another is believed to be hiding in India.

Merlin, alias Mariyam, who hails from Kochi converted to Islam from Christianity while she was in Mumbai last year.

Nimisha, alias Fathima, from a Hindu family in Thiruvananthapuram, converted to Islam while studying at a dental college in Kasaragod district in November last year.

Kerala CM Demands Probe

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the police to launch a probe into the matter urgently.

The state government is committed to take stern action against any kind of terror activities.
Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala

The Chief Minister also made it clear that “extremism and terrorism has no religion and the government would not allow any move to trigger anti-Muslim sentiments in society over the issue.”

The families of the youths, including a couple, have not heard from them for the past one month and fear that they have been radicalised after having gone to the Middle East for religious studies.

Kasaragod District Panchayat member V P P Mustafa said that during Eid, the parents of two missing youths received ‘WhatsApp’ messages saying, “we are not coming back. Here there is Divine Rule. You also should join us”.

“We have joined ISIS to fight US for attacking Muslims”, read another message, he said adding that the veracity of the messages has yet to be checked.

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On being approached by the families, Karunakaran, Thrikarippur MLA M Rajagopalan and Mustafa informed the Chief Minister about the matter.

Rajagopal said that all those missing were below the age of 30 and highly qualified.

The Chief minister has asked police to launch a probe into the matter urgently.
Karunakaran, Kasaragod MP

He said the family members of the missing youths met him yesterday and brought the matter to his notice.

Hakim, father of Hafesuddin who is among those missing from Kasaragod, told television channels that his son had left a month ago and there was no news from him.

If he returns as a good man, I will welcome him. If not, I do not want to see even his dead body.

Missing People Hail from Well-Heeled Families

Of the 15 missing youngsters, 11 hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district of Kerala. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Of the 15 missing youngsters, 11 hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district of Kerala. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Karunakaran said the family members told him that the youths had left for Middle East a month ago, stating that they were going for religious studies. For the last month, however, their families had no communication from them, which made them suspicious.

Of the 15 missing youngsters, 11 hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district of Kerala, while the rest are from Palakkad district. Mustafa said that among the missing were Dr Ijas and his dentist wife. They had left home saying they were going to Lakshadweep.

Abdul Rasheed, an engineering graduate, had left home with his wife and a two-year old daughter, saying that they were going to Mumbai for a job.

The missing people hail from middle class families and had begun expressing a keen interest in religious matters two years ago.

Also Read:
Why Owaisi Wants to Give Legal Aid to Hyderabad’s ISIS Suspects

(With inputs from PTI and The Indian Express.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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