In March 2022, India's Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification outlawing the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), founded by radical Indian preacher Zakir Naik, who is now exiled in Malaysia. Zakir Naik's name has come up in recent years in investigations of young Indians and Bangladeshis radicalized by jihadi groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda. The Indian government's ban is an extension of an existing ban on IRF for another five years.
Zakir Naik, along with many other Western Islamist leaders, is also at the forefront of a global Islamist effort in Norway to build a multi-purpose Islamic Dawah Center in that country. Dawah, or proselytization, is the act of inviting non-Muslims to accept Islam. In the past, Zakir Naik has described Western leaders in extreme words, saying that then U.S. President George W. Bush himself carried out 9/11. In 2010, Naik was barred from entering the United Kingdom and Canada.
Zakir Naik remains in Malaysia
Two recent English-language reports, one on March 31, 2022, and the other on April 1, by Indian writer Vicky Nanjappa explain the radicalization of young Muslims by Zakir Naik and his non-governmental organization Islamic Research Institute (IRF), Mumbai, which is now outlawed.
Following are excerpts Nanjappa's March 31 report:
"The Fugitive [Zakir Naik] Who Is In Malaysia Has Had His Name Taken Several Times In The Past By Radical Elements"
"Radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's organization Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has been banned on charges of radicalizing Muslim youth. The Ministry of Home Affairs [MHA] in a notification declared the IRF an unlawful association and banned it for five years. The MHA said that the speeches of Naik were objectionable in nature, and he had been extolling known terrorists apart from stating that every Muslim should be a terrorist.
"The notification also said that Zakir Naik has been promoting the forcible conversion of youth [to] Islam. He has also justified suicide bombings and had made objectionable comments against Hindus and Hindu gods. The notorious radical preacher has been a centric figure in every Islamic State [ISIS] recruit in India. The fugitive who is in Malaysia has had his name taken several times in the past by radical elements. He has, however, maintained that he has nothing to do with these incidents and India is indulging in a witch-hunt against him.
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"In the Kerala Islamic State case [i.e., ISIS's recruitment of youths from the southern Indian state of Kerala], his name has cropped in the past as well. The raids that were conducted on Sunday [date unclear, maybe March 27] are related to the same case and the NIA [National Investigating Agency of India] has learnt that the members of this module were on the same social media group that the terrorists who undertook the Sri Lanka blasts were. The NIA has, however. said that it found no direct link between the Kerala module and the one in Sri Lanka.
"Last year [in 2021], the NIA arrested Nashidul Hamzafar, a 26-year-old management student from Wayanad in Kerala. He was the first ISIS recruit from Kerala to be deported from Afghanistan. During his interrogation, he details the role played by Islamic preachers such as Naik and what sort of an influence they had on him, which ultimately prompted him to join the ISIS. Hamzafar says that he was not attracted to the ISIS ideology for long. 'I found them to be too brutal and the outfit only scared me,' he says. 'My ambition was to pursue my education and find a good job in Dubai.'
"A lot changed when one of his friends, Shihas, sent him an audio clip regarding the Islamic State. 'My perception toward the outfit changed. Then I began listening to audios of Zakir Naik, Noman Ali Khan, among others. Their speeches inspired me and my approach toward life changed.'"
"The Likes Of Zakir Naik Through His Islamic Research Foundation And The Kerala-Based Peace Educational Foundation [PEF] Have Played A Huge Role In The Radicalization Of Youth In Kerala"
"Going by his statements, it becomes clear that the likes of Zakir Naik through his Islamic Research Foundation and the Kerala-based Peace Educational Foundation [PEF] have played a huge role in the radicalization of youth in Kerala.
"Recently a Mumbai court had framed charges against Arshi Qureshi. The case relates to the indoctrination of Ashfak Majid and his associates into extreme jihadi ideology by a group of like-minded youths from Kasaragod district of Kerala. It was also stated that some members of the Zakir Naik-run NGO, Islamic Research Foundation, too were involved in the radicalization process. It was further alleged that these persons had motivated the youth to join the Islamic State. Naik has repeatedly claimed that he is being targeted due to his religion. An NIA official, however, says that this is misconstrued, and the agency is targeting him for acts of terror.
"In a reply to the Interpol, the NIA said that he is under investigation for funding terror suspects. The NIA also pointed out that it had repeatedly sent out summons to Naik, but he has not once presented himself before the agency. The NIA also said that his passport had been revoked. Further the NIA also said that Naik's NGO Islamic Research Foundation had been banned by the government and the same was upheld by the tribunal. He had funded a few terror suspects through his NGO and hence he needs to be questioned in that connection, the NIA also told the Interpol."
Following are excerpts from Nanjappa's April 1 report:
"[T]he Police [In India] Had 5,700 Conversions Under The Scanner, And It Was Believed That Nearly A 1,000 Of Them Were Done By Naik's IRF"
"A complaint had been filed by one Ebin Jacob from Kerala, who alleged that his sister had been converted. The lady in question was born as Merrin. However, following her marriage she was taken to meet Naik's aide, Arshi Qureshi. She had converted and her name was changed to Mirriam.
"Sources in the investigating agency tell OneIndia that they have learnt that Rs 50,000 [about $650] cash would be paid to people who would convert to Islam. 'We believe that these were forced conversions which is against the law. Moreover, the law on conversions does not permit monetary benefits,' sources said.
"Naik exploited the situation in Kerala and added to the already existing menace of conversions to Islam. In 2016 two of Naik's aides were arrested and they revealed in detail about this racket [of converting Christian and Hindu youths to Islam]. At that time the police had 5,700 conversions under the scanner, and it was believed that nearly a 1,000 of them were done by Naik's IRF..."
 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 292, Global Islamist Leaders Join Hands With Wanted Indian Preacher Dr. Zakir Naik To Build Multi-Purpose Islamic Dawah Center In Norway, July 6, 2021.
 MEMRI TV Clip No. 1846, Indian Muslim Cleric Zakir Naik: 9/11 Was Carried Out by George Bush Himself, July 31, 2008.
 MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 618, Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik, Barred from U.K. and Canada – An Ideological Profile, June 25, 2010.
 OneIndia.com (India) March 31, 2022. The original English of the report has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.
 OneIndia.com (India), April 1, 2022.