Evangelist group’s hand in Delhi high court blast?

TNN | Sep 17, 2011, 01.30AM IST

NEW DELHI: Tablighi Jamaat, a hugely popular religious movement headquartered in New Delhi, is no stranger to controversy, and the evangelist group doesn’t make much effort to respond to allegations.


Sources said the group’s name cropped up in the ongoing investigations into the blast in Delhi high court. Though there are no confirmations, indications are that the cell that carried out the blast may have found most of its recruits from Tablighi followers in Kishtwar.

Many sources are sceptical about reports of NIA ( National Investigation Agency) having cracked the case with the arrest of two boys and detention of two others in Jammu’s Kishtwar area, where from an email emerged a few hours after the blast. The mail had demanded immediate repeal of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s death sentence.

If reports about the terror cell being from Tablighi Jamaat are indeed true, then it is nothing new for the puritanical movement that has followers around the world. Though the movement doesn’t have any political agenda, and is extremely quiet about its activities, it has repeatedly found itself amid controversies, with its followers being accused of resorting to violence and having extremist agendas. However, the group itself is only a puritanical movement, which is known for the commitment of its members to preach pure Islamic values all over the world.

Tablighi Jamaat was founded in India in 1926 and is an offshoot of Deobandi movement. Working towards spiritual reformation of all Muslims, its volunteers go house to house preaching core values of Islam.

In many instances of Islamic terror, investigators have found Tablighi followers were active participants though the organization has never been implicated in any conspiracy.


‘Tablighi Jamaat Qaeda Delhi cover’

AL-Qaeda operatives used a New Delhi-based organisation, Tablighi Jamaat, as a cover to obtain travel documents and shelter. As per disclosures of Guantanamo Bay detainees, released by WikiLeaks, the affiliation with the organisation was “identified as an al-Qaeda cover story”.

Furthermore, say the papers, at least three of the hardcore inmates at the prison had stayed at the organisation’s facilities in Delhi and around.

The records revealed by WikiLeaks contain interrogation reports and analysis of 779 inmates of the Cuba bay prison.

Rubbishing the charge, Syed Shaukat Ali, who is associated with the Tablighi Jamaat, said their facilities were open to all. Questioning the authenticity of the WikiLeaks records, he said: “It is known that such statements are forced to be made under duress. Anybody can visit the mosque at Nizamuddin as it is open to all. You can also go. Please visit and see it for yourself.”

The US records identify the New Delhi-headquartered Jamaat Tabligh (as the name appears in its records) as a “proselytising organisation that willingly supports terrorists”.

A note on the organisation buried deep in the files states, “Affiliation with the JT (Jamaat Tabligh) has been identified as an al-Qaida cover story. Al-Qaida used the JT to facilitate and fund the international travels of its members. Most recently the JT has been linked to the 11 July, 2006, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in which at least 207 people were killed and over 800 injured.”

The records also say that “Al-Qaida used the JT to facilitate and fund the international travel of its members”. Several of the inmates are recorded as having used JT’s facilities in India and abroad for shelter and travel documents.

Somalian resident Muhammad Sulayman, who has been identified as a member and financier of al-Qaeda, used the New Delhi HQ of the organisation to get travel documents for Pakistan. “He was denied UN refugee status in India, but he obtained a visa to travel to Pakistan under the sponsorship of Jamaat Tablighi (JT). Detainee stated he had no intention of performing missionary duties or serving with the JT; he just used the group to get a visa,” the record states.

A Sudanese Lashkar-e-Toiba recruiter, Amir Mohammed, has also been recorded as using the JT to obtain a visa for Pakistan where he joined a terror training camp. “In early 1991, detainee flew from Sudan to India (IN) via Kenya. On the flight to India, detainee met a representative of the Tabligh movement who told detainee about a large Tabligh center in New Delhi, IN, where he could go for assistance. Detainee misrepresented himself as an interested Tabligh candidate in order to obtain a Pakistani visa,” his dossier states.

Abdul Bukhary, a Saudi Arabian member of the al-Qaeda is recorded as staying at the “JT headquarters in Nizam-e-Alden for a month”, before travelling to Pakistan to join a terror camp.

While there are several other records in the files on the organisation, members say that the Tablighi Jamaat is not a formal organisation but can be called a group of missionaries “engaged in conducting religious discourses at mosques to impart lessons in Islam and Islamic faith”.

While denying claims that al-Qaeda operatives stayed at its headquarters in Nizammudin, Syed Shaukat Ali, who is associated with the organisation, said foreigners did participate at prayers but their passports were submitted for verification. “We get to know their (foreigners’) details beforehand as such visits are coordinated by Tablighi chapters abroad. Besides, foreigners are generally asked to submit their passports for verification,” he said.


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