Islamist radical organizations in parts of India including Kerala and Kashmir are being supported and funded by Turkish outfits backed by the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government in Ankara, an Indian government official has claimed, according to the Hindustan Times.
“There is an effort to radicalize Indian Muslims and recruit fundamentalists coordinated from Turkey,” a senior government official said, underlining that a recent assessment in New Delhi had noted the emergence of Turkey as “the hub of anti-India activities” next only to Pakistan.
Ankara’s attempt to expand its influence among South Asian Muslims comes against the backdrop of President Erdoğan’s continuing pitch to challenge Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Islamic world at a global level and offering a reshaped, conservative Turkey with Ottoman traditions as the model for other Islamic nations to follow.
Officials believe that Erdogan’s political agenda has driven his government to expand its influence with South Asian Muslims, particularly those in India.
Indian officials said the Turkish government had funded Kashmir’s hardline separatist leader such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani for years. But it is the rapidly expanding scale of the effort that recently nudged security agencies to carry out an extensive review.
The Erdoğan government has been funding religious seminars in India, recruiting fundamentalists to radicalize people and even take freshly minted radicals on all-expense trips to Turkey to reinforce their learnings.
The security review also referred to a Kerala-based Islamist radical organization that had been funded by Turkey for some time.
“We are also aware of some people from this group travelling to Qatar to meet some people from Turkey to seek funding for their activities,” a government official said. “That amounts as high as [$53,400] are being offered to preach radical Islam in Kerala.”
Officials said Turkey, along with Pakistan, has also been funding Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher accused of radicalizing Muslims, via Qatar, a senior official said.