Tablighi Jamaat and its Gift to South Asia

A religious congregation in Delhi could be the coronavirus hotspot for the whole of south Asia.

For most of the participants of the Tablighi Jamaat, their dream has always been to reach out to maximum people and become viral. And now they finally have. And how. Ever since the role of Tablighi Jamaat in the spreading of the Wuhan Coronavirus across numerous states of India has come to light, Delhi’s Nizamuddin became a potential hotspot for coronavirus after several people who participated in a religious congregation at a mosque tested positive. In the Nizamuddin area of ​​Delhi, there has been uproar after 24 patients of Corona were found from the Markaz of Tablighi Jamaat.

Amidst the Corona crisis across the country, a program took place in Markaz of Tablighi Jamaat, located in Nizamuddin, Delhi. According to officials, around 1400 people attended the event. Most of the people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat program in Delhi were citizens of Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Kyrgyzstan. These people came to India after attending a program of Islamic preachers in Kuala Lumpur between 27 February and 1 March. The program in Delhi was held from 1 to 15 March in this center in the west area of ​​Nizamuddin. When some people were found positive there, the police investigated everyone and took the area under their control. After investigation, more than 200 people were quarantined.

The Malaysia connection

It was in February when about 16,000 Tablighis gathered at a mosque in Malaysia from across the region. The New York Times reported that the participants in the 16,000-strong gathering of the world’s biggest Islamic missionary movement had spread the coronavirus to half a dozen nations, creating the “largest known viral vector in Southeast Asia”. More than 620 people connected to the four-day conclave have tested positive in Malaysia, prompting the country to seal its borders until the end of the month. Most of the 73 coronavirus cases in Brunei are tied to the gathering, as are 10 cases in Thailand.

In late March Al Jazeera reported that only half of the Malaysian participants who attended have come forward for tests, raising fears that the outbreak from the mosque could be more far-reaching.

Even in Pakistan, 27 members of Tablighi Jamaat, out of the 35 screened at their headquarters in Raiwind, tested positive for coronavirus.

The Kashmir Connection

Interestingly, the surge in Kashmir’s Coronavirus cases has also got a Tablighi Jamaat connection. One of the Coronavirus positive cases in Kashmir had reportedly attended the congregation at Nizammudin’s Markaz. Later, when he returned to Kashmir, he held congregations in Sopore, Bandipora, Samba and Jammu districts during which he is reported to have met dozens of people in various places, including Srinagar.

History of association to Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Kashmiri terrorists

Thus it is clear that India is not the only country affected by the recklessness of the Tablighi Jamaat. Other South Asian countries are bearing the brunt of it as well. Under such circumstances, the Tablighi Jamaat’s links with terrorist organizations such as the Al Qaeda become hugely significant.

Secret US documents released by Wikileaks in 2011 revealed that some Al Qaeda operatives used the Jamaat to get visas and fund their travel to Pakistan. Several years ago, “a veteran jihadist recounts such an encounter wherein one of the JT (Jamaat Tablighi) members procured him a visa for Pakistan. A report on Somalian detainee Mohammed Soliman Barre prepared on September 1, 2008, says, “JT, a proselytizing organization, has been identified as an Al-Qaeda cover story. Al-Qaeda used the JT to facilitate and fund the international travels of its members.” “He was denied UN refugee status in India, but he obtained a visa to travel to Pakistan under the sponsorship of Jamaat Tablighi (JT). Detainee stated he had no intention of performing missionary duties or serving with the JT; he just used the group to get a visa,” the report said. A report on Sudan national Amir Muhammad, prepared on the 27th of January 2008, said, “In early 1991, detainee flew from Sudan to India (IN) via Kenya. On the flight to India, detainee met a representative of the Tabligh movement who told detainee about a large Tabligh center in New Delhi where he could go for assistance. “Detainee misrepresented himself as an interested Tabligh candidate in order to obtain a Pakistani visa,” it said.

Thus, it is clear that the Tablighi Jamaat is used as a conduit by Islamic Terrorist organizations to felicitate travel for their members.  Iyman Faris, an Ohio truck driver accused of a terrorist plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge in 2003, used the Jamaat to secure travel to Pakistan in order to accomplish an assignment for the Al Qaeda. The Tableeghi Jamaat came under the eyes of federal investigators in the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attack after its name popped up in at least four high-profile terrorism cases. In several cases, it has been found that Al Qaeda used them for recruiting, now and in the past.

In a detailed report on the Tablighi Jamaat and its links to the world of Global Jihad,  there is evidence of ‘indirect connections’ between the Jamaat and anti-Shiite sectarian groups, Kashmiri terrorists and the Taliban. The report said, “The TJ organization also serves as a de facto conduit for Islamist extremists and for groups such as al Qaeda to recruit new members. Significantly, the Tablighi recruits do intersect with the world of radical Islamism when they travel to Pakistan to receive their initial training.” Once the recruits are in Pakistan, terrorist outfits such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen try to woo them.

Before their great involvement in the spreading of the Wuhan Coronavirus across the world, people associated with the Tablighi Jamaat have featured regularly in terrorist attacks. One of the attackers in the 2017 London Bridge Attack, Youssef Zaghba, was linked to the Tableeghi Jamaat. Mohammed Siddique Khan, the leader of the 7/7 terrorists that committed the London Bombings in 2005, and associate Shehzad Tanweer were linked to the Tableeghi Jamaat as well.

Viewpoint

Given the suspicious manner in which the Tablighi Jamaat has aided in the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus and given their history of links to terrorist organizations, the possibility that it was an act of ‘Biological Terrorism’ cannot be ruled out. Events of the Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan, Malaysia and India have spread the virus across South Asian countries. If it was indeed a case of deliberate spread, then it reflects the most dangerous turn of events that authorities across countries will now have to contend with.

04 Apr 20/Saturday                                                                                          Written By: Saima Ibrahim