Window on South Asia

Published:  12:44 AM, 07 September 2018

Security hazards due to Zakir Naik's continued stay in Malaysia

Despite India's proactive and series of diplomatic efforts, Zakir Naik , wanted in India for several cases and for spewing venom through his hate speeches fomenting communal discord , continues to be harbored in Malaysia eluding the Indian security agencies .

Zakir Naik, who got relocated in Malaysia from Saudi Arabia, is now firmly ensconced on the Malaysian soil and looks to be poised never to come back to India in spite of sustained efforts by the Indian establishment to have him deported here and face charges.

Meanwhile, sometime back he was conspicuously seen getting photographed with the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad ostensibly to give signal to the Indian government that he enjoys complete patronage of the highest in Malaysia and no amount of efforts by the Indians would yield results to extradite him to India.

Similarly, he got photographed with political foe and immediate predecessor Najib after arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Saudi Arabia. Such photo opportunities help the cause of Naik as he remains emboldened by such images boosting his morale and dispelling his sense of insecurity.

All said, what are the security hazards posed by Zakir Naik merits a close examination. His profile and activities are expected to further influence the areas adjacent to Malaysia like the southern Thailand which is already reeling under Saudi sponsored radicalism carrying heavy dosage of ultra indoctrination in the affected areas.

To dwell upon threadbare on the issue under reference, the Southern tract of Thailand including Yala and Narathiwat plus other areas, we see Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), very active in pushing the Wahabi ideology promoted by Saudi radicals. However, for tactical reasons, PULO for the time being is moving slow with its agenda but massive funding from Saudi Arabia continues to flow incessantly. And a vigorous and steep rise in its activities is only a matter of time.

Meanwhile , once again for tactical reasons , hotspot like Sathorn have given rise to a few fragmented groups including GMIP, BBMP, Barisan Revolusi Nasional and their Imams are , while leading prayers, promoting their radical agenda through passionate preachings .

In this context, it is pertinent to mention the name of one Ridwan Islamuddin Hambali who happens to be the only member of Al Qaeda shura and for his undesirable activities, was arrested in Thailand in the past. He is also strongly believed to be an active member of the Jemaiah Islamia being the operational chief of subversive activities in the region. This outfit was directly responsible for the Bali bombings of 2002.

There is yet another body active called Yala Islamic College, totally funded by Saudi Arabia. It has nearly 2000 students and most of its financial assistance comes from Qatar, Kuwait and other gulf countries who are the principal sources of spreading canards of Wahhabism.

Dr Ismail Lutifi who is chief of this faculty, is himself a product Saudi Arab's Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. Hence the indoctrination comes naturally and obviously this gives rise to communalism.

Insiders in Malaysian security setups disclose in anonymity that Zakir Naik is in touch with some of these organizations as well as with a select band of hardcore Islamists in southern Thailand to continue his diktat of radical Islamic agenda. This is obviously a disturbing trend needing to be curbed sooner than later.

What appears advisable at this juncture is on part of India to intensify its diplomatic pressure in a more aggressive manner on Malaysia for early deportation of Zakir Naik to India. It is undoubtedly a tall order and Malaysia is very unlikely to give in to the Indian pressure.

To illustrate the point, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, reacting to Indian vociferous protests, had told the Malaysian legislature that no preferential treatment would be accorded to Zakir Naik in Malaysia but soon after his disclosure, we saw a beaming Naik hobnobbing with those who are influential and matter a lot in Malaysia.

Now that certain parts of Thailand look vulnerable as discussed in the preceding paragraphs, it would seem pragmatic to also exert pressure on Thailand to sever any unholy link that may be existing between its radicalized region and Naik.

Thailand should independently mount pressure on Malaysia highlighting Naik's presence on Malaysian soil and the hazards it entails. Who would know better than Thailand as it already had a good measure of terror attacks perpetrated by terrorists from Southern Thailand and still it is fraught with perils of terrorism by the same quarters.

Only very recently (August 31) , we saw in the media Prime Minister Modi discussing with his Thai counterpart , Prayut Chan O Cha on bilateral issues on the sidelines of BIMSTEC summit . We don't know the contents of the talks but it is assumed that the security cooperation was discussed. Zakir Naik and the threats he pose in the region could be put across to press home the point.

Possibly ASEAN could also be taken on board. Such multi pronged attack may prove useful in keeping Zakir and his activities under check, and needless to emphasize that his deportation will be a huge setback to other terror linked fugitives hiding elsewhere.

The writer is a freelancer who writes on topical issues of interest

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