Islamic preacher Zakir Naik may have given scholarship to IS recruiter: India's probe agency

New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 23, 2016, 12.49 AM(IST)

Zakir Naik. Photograph:( DNA )

Controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's foundation apparently gave money to suspected Islamic State recruiter Abu Anas last year, India's anti-terror agency said.

If found true, this would be the first evidence of a nexus between Naik and IS.

This comes after the Indian government had banned Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for unlawful activities last week.

The NIA's probe into financial dealings of the foundation suggest that IRF had given Rs 80,000 (roughly $1,170) as scholarship to Anas around the time he was planning to leave for Syria to join IS.

Anas, an engineer by profession, was arrested by the NIA in Januray for allegedly plotting a terror strike ahead of January 26, which is India's Republic Day. 

Naik has come under India's security scanner following the deadly Gulshan attack in Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka. 

The perpetrators of the Gulshan terror attack in July 2016, which left 29 people dead, had been "admirers" of Naik's preachings, according to Bangladeshi Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir.

Naik has denied being a "terrorist influencer", saying he has preached in over 150 countries without being troubled by such allegations.

India's investigation agencies have come down hard since the Dhaka attacks and are currently scrutinising Naik's properties and financial dealings.