India’s ‘Covid-19 super-spreader’ Tablighi Jamaat ‘ has links to jihad terror

Radhika Singh

Tablighi Jamaat has been making headlines after becoming known as the super-spreaders of the novel coronavirus across South Asian countries, India in particular, where they held a gigantic religious congregation, despite the government-sanctioned lockdown. If mingling with thousands of Indians and transmitting the virus in a country of 1.4 billion people was not enough, Jamaat members and their accomplices have resorted to pelting with stones the police officials who came to quarantine them and the medical officials who tried to treat them. They also harassed female medical staff by marching naked in front of them in hospitals. Despite these actions, their apologists race to defend them, because the Muslims can never be wrong.

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However, this is not the first time India is reeling under the threat of the Islamic radicals of Tablighi Jamaat. In February 2002, the Muslim extremists who torched the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, burning 57 Hindu devotees to death, are also suspected to have been members of this Jamaat.

Though little known, the Tablighi Jamaat is far from being an innocuous socio-cultural organization, as liberal media would like you to believe. It is an India-based radical Islamist hydra with multiple heads, and has its tentacles spread worldwide, with corroborated connections to violence, vandalism, terrorists and terror activities across the globe.

The movement, which operates out of 150 countries, boasts between 50 million and 150 million adherents. An offshoot of the fundamentalist Deobandi movement, the Jamaat believes Islam must have hegemony over all other faiths, and is out to establish the rule of Islam globally, albeit stealthily.

British terrorist Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate a shoe bomb on American Airlines flight 63 en route from Paris to Milan in 2001, had converted to Islam while being imprisoned for petty crimes, and was a follower of this fanatic movement. Tablighi Jamaat’s name also surfaced during the investigations of the July 2005 London Underground bombings, the plotting of bombing flights en route to the United States from London in 2006, and the attempted bombings of London and Glasgow in July 2007.

Wikileaks reveals that the Al-Qaeda 9/11 plotters spent some days at the Nizamuddin facility of the Jamaat in Delhi, India. Jose Padilla, also known as Abdullah al-Muhajir, who was convicted of plotting radiological bombs and sentenced to 21 years in prison in the US, flaunts links to the Tablighi Jamaat. Also, the Washington D.C-born John Walker Lindh, who converted to Sunni Islam and became a Taliban supporter, and is convicted of participating in conspiracies to murdering U.S nationals and providing material support to terrorist organizations, has links to the Jamaat.

According to FBI estimates, close to 50,000 people are associated with the Jamaat’s mission in the United States. Tablighi mosques operate in major states, including Texas, California, and New York, and the Al-Falah Mosque at Queens, New York is apparently their North American headquarters.

Around 80% per cent of the Islamist radicals in France are connected to the Tablighi Jamaat through miscellaneous links, and it acts “as a as nursery for indoctrinating Islamist terrorists,” according to Dr Farhan Zahid, a Pakistani counter-terrorism expert, in his analysis “Tablighi Jamaat and its links with terrorism.” Many of the Jamaatis have overlapping membership with other jihadist associations also. The French Muslim recruits of the Jamaat were found to have played a large role in planning the attacks by the Portland Seven and the Lackawanna Six in the US.

Back in 2008, after a series of raids conducted on a mosque, a prayer hall and several residential buildings in Barcelona, Spanish police seized explosives and arrested 14 men who were plotting bomb attacks throughout the city. All these detainees were Islamists from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and all were members of the Tablighi Jamaat.

The 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba, the youngest of the London Bridge attackers of 2017, had attended meetings of Tablighi Jamaat as a student in Morocco before migrating to the UK.

British terrorists Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, who led the 7/7 bomb attacks claiming 55 lives in London, would frequent the Jamaat’s mosque in Yorkshire. The roots of Tablighi Jamaat run deep in the United Kingdom due to the thriving presence of South Asian Muslims in the country. The Markazi Mosque in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, is run by the Tablighis, and is designated as the Jamaat’s European headquarters.

At face value, it may appear to be a harmless egalitarian organization, but in the deeper scheme of things, the Tablighi Jamaat urges liberal or moderate Muslims to examine their own life choices, and demands that they return to orthodox Islam. These members are then prepared to execute radical operations.

COVID 19

Tablighi Jamaat held the religious congregational program in Nizamuddin West, Delhi. There was an Ijtema (congregation) in every week of March till March 21. 2020

At least 24 of the attendees had tested positive for the virus among the 300 who showed symptoms by 31 March 2020. It is believed that the sources of infection were preachers from Indonesia. Many had returned to their states and also provided refuge to foreign speakers without the knowledge of local governments. Eventually started local transmissions especially in Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam.

The entire Nizamuddin West area has been cordoned off by the Police as of 30 March, and medical camps have been set up.  After evacuation from the markaz, of the scores of jamaat attendees, 167 of them were quarantined in a railway facility in south east Delhi amid concerns over their safety and transmission of the virus. The Tablighi Jamaat gathering emerged as one of India’s major coronavirus hotspots in India, after 1445 out of 4067 cases were linked to attendees according to the Health Ministry

 

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