Tuesday, May 28

Militants followed IS recruiters, controversial preacher

Sharier Khan: Two of the five young militants who have slaughtered 20 innocent people Friday night at Holey Artisan Bakery used to follow three controversial Islamists — Anjem Choudary, Shami Witness and Zakir Nayek.

Militant killer Nibras Islam, 22, used to follow two alleged suspected recruiters of Islamic State — Anjem Choudary and Shami Witness — on Twitter in 2014.

Another killer Rohan Imtiaz, son of an Awami League leader, propagated on Facebook last year quoting Peace TV’s controversial preacher Zakir Nayek “urging all Muslims to be terrorists”.

A Pakistan-origin British citizen, 49-year-old Anjem is now facing trial in England for breaking the 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 the IS.

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.

Dr Nayek is banned in UK, Canada and Malaysia and is a controversial figure in his home country India. He is wildly popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV although his preaching often demeans other religions and even other Muslim sects.

This means at least in the case Nibras and Rohan, they did not become radicalised overnight. They have been consuming radical materials for one to two years before finally disappearing in February-March and reappearing as “IS killers” Friday night at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan.

From their pictures posted by the IS media and recirculated by the SITE Intelligence Group, it can be assumed that these young men received arms training after their disappearance specifically to carry out the killing mission on June 1. Their attire with IS logo in their backdrop, the automatic rifles held in their hands reveal they underwent an organised training which is far from anything amateurish.

That the killers released some of the hostages 15 minutes before the army-led operation on Saturday morning also showed the depth of their brains being washed—that they were ready to die. While this is a bit different from committing suicide, but it takes extra-ordinary will force to remain ready to die.

The killers had uploaded grizzly pictures of their deeds at the Holey Artisan Bakery by midnight Friday —which was re-uploaded by the IS media claiming to have killed 20 people. These pictures widely circulated in the Internet also reveal the mind sets of the killers. All the women victims were blurred in the pictures. Militants say it is a sin to show pictures of women, who they do not mind killing or raping.

Shami Witness

According to British media Channel 4 news, Shami Witness was charged by the Indian police 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.”

Who is Anjem Choudary?

Anjem Choudary was previously a solicitor and served as the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers and until it was proscribed, said the spokesman for Islam4UK.

According to Telegraph report on June 28, Anjem has gone on trial being accused of terrorism offences.

He is charged in connection with speeches posted on YouTube.

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’.

Choudary also allegedly told supporters to travel to territory controlled by the barbaric regime in Syria and Iraq.

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 influentialSalafi ideologue in India”.

Zakir is banned in 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 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.