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Posted at: Feb 17, 2017, 5:54 PM; last updated: Feb 17, 2017, 10:07 PM (IST)

ED traces Zakir Naik's Rs 200 crore 'money trail' to Middle East

ED traces Zakir Naik's Rs 200 crore 'money trail' to Middle East
Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher whose discourses have been criticised for fomenting hatred, left the country last year when his name began to be connected to a terrorist attack in Dhaka on July 1 last year. File photo

Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 17

The Enforcement Directorate has found a money trail of more than Rs 200 crore between controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik and various donors in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, sources said on Friday.

The revelations were made during interrogation of Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar, a man who handled finances for Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), an NGO that has been banned under Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act.

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Naik, a Mumbai-based Islamic preacher whose discourses have been criticised for fomenting hatred, left the country last year when his name began to be connected to a terrorist attack in Dhaka on July 1 last year and has since remained abroad.

Sources in the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the NGO’s funding, said Gazdar was arrested on Thursday under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a move that comes after several rounds of questioning.   
 Documents taken from Gazdar and IRF indicate that funds routed from various donors in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been invested in real estate in different parts of the country. “Residential and commercial buildings have been purchased in the names of Dr Naik's relatives,” an official said.

A real estate company called Long Last Constructions — owned by Gazdar and Naik's sister Nailah Noorani — is being investigated for its land purchases made in several parts of the country, ED officials said.
Gazdar, who was produced before the special PMLA court on Friday, has been in touch with Naik since his “flight” from India, sources said.

Gazdar was questioned on Thursday about the identities of some “well-wishers” who had donated crores of rupees to trusts controlled by the IRF. Investigators said he was uncooperative and had to be arrested to continue the questioning.

The central government banned Naik’s NGO for five years for his “provocative speeches that propagated terrorism” — allegations the preacher has denied — in November.

The Islamic preacher has not responded to officials summons to have him brought back to the country for questioning.  
Naik left the country after investigation suggested that some militants involved in the attacks that killed 23 people, an Indian girl among them, last year may have been inspired by his sermons.

He is banned in US, Canada and Malaysia.

His preaching, although controversial for provoking denigrating other religions and encouraging Islamic sectarianism, is popular in Bangladesh.

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