India probes Zakir Naik's links to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim

Zakir Naik has been banned by India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UK and Canada, primarily for stoking communal tension. Naik gained notoriety when one of the Dhaka attackers cited his influence on him to be a radical Islamist. (Image courtesy: Youtube) Photograph:( Others )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 20, 2017, 03.17 AM (IST)

Indian investigators are probing controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's links with people close to gangster Dawood Ibrahim, the man who headed an organised crime syndicate D-company in Mumbai.

India's Enforcement Directorate suspect that some Karachi-based businessmen close to Dawood funnelled large amounts of money in to Naik's organisation Islamic Research Foundation.

The ED's suspicion has grown after IRF's apprehended chief financial officer Aamir Gazdar apparently oversaw transactions from Pakistan and Dubai, according to Mumbai Mirror.

A senior ED official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a "closely coordinated nvestigation" was on to find whether Zaik's organisation was used as a front by Dawood Ibrahim and an unnamed Pakistni terror outfit.

Large transactions were also made from Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and a few African countries, the news report stated. 

Naik or IRF representatives were not available for comment.

The ED also said Gazdar created shell companies to masquerade the offshore transactions.

Naik, who is known as the most influential Salafi ideologue in India, has been banned from preaching in India and Bangladesh.

He was banned from UK and Canada several years ago and Malaysia banned his preachings fearing communal tension in the country.

The 51-year-old preacher came under Bangladesh's security lens when one of the Dhaka attackers had posted on Facebook about Naik's influence on him.

Twenty two people, including 17 foreigners, were killed in a deadly assault on an upscale eatery in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka on July 1.

Dawood Ibrahim has remained a fugitive -- India believes him to be hiding in Karachi, Pakistan -- ever since a series of bombs rocked Mumbai, then Bombay, in 1993, which left 257 people dead and hundreds wounded.