zakir naik
zakir naikReuters

The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and Kerala police arrested on Wednesday an alleged aide of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for recruiting youth from Kerala for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), reports said on Friday.

If the accused Arshid Qureshi's membership to Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is confirmed, it would be the first arrest of a member of Naik's organisation. Naik and his organisation IRF has been under the watch of security and intelligence authorities since terrorists who killed 20 people at a cafe in Dhaka on July 1 said that they were inspired by him.

Qureshi was arrested from Seawoods in Mumbai, following which he was produced at the magistrate court in CBD-Belapur on Thursday. He has been remanded to transit custody for four days. Both Maharashtra ATS and Kerala police will have access to him.

Ebin Jacob, the brother of one of the missing women, Merin aka Mariam, had accused her husband, Bestin Vincent aka Yahia, and Qureshi for attempting to convert him to Islam and force him to join Isis. Jacob had gone to Mumbai with Bestin to meet Qureshi.

The police charged Qureshi and Vincent with Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after Jacob's statement.

As per the statement, Qureshi insisted that Ebin should embrace Islam and join IS. It was Bestin who compelled Ebin to come to Mumbai and meet Qureshi," Ernakulam ACP KV Vijayan, the investigating officer, had said.

However, Jacob returned from Mumbai as he was not convinced with Qureshi's arguments about Islam being the superior religion.

At least 21 people from Kerala who went missing earlier this month are believed to have joined the Isis. Apart from Merin, another girl, Nimisha, who was a Hindu, was reportedly forcibly converted to Islam.