Days after serial blasts on Easter Sunday, cable operators in Sri Lanka blocked Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s Peace TV, according to sources. India and Bangladesh have already banned Peace TV, which has often been used by ISIS recruiters for indoctrination and brainwashing youth. The official announcement in this regard is yet to be made.
On Monday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested an Islamic State sympathiser and follower, identified as Riyas Aboobacker, of alleged Sri Lanka bombings mastermind Zahran Hasim from Kerala, the agency said. Aboobacker admitted that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. The 29-year-old told the NIA that he has been following Hasim for more than a year and has also followed the speeches of Zakir Naik, an absconding Indian Islamic preacher and the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation.
Naik has been under investigation since 2016, when the Centre banned his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for five years. The controversial preacher is accused of inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities.
He is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on several charges under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The preacher, declared a proclaimed offender by a special NIA court in June 2017, is accused of inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities. The NIA filed a charge sheet against Naik and others before a Mumbai court in October 2017.
The Islamic State has claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) for the bombings. Both Christianity and Islam are minority religions in Sri Lanka, with each accounting for less than 10 per cent of the population. The vast majority of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist.