The role of Tablighi Jamaat in the spreading of the Wuhan Coronavirus across numerous states of India has come to light. At least ten people have died thus far after attending an Islamic religious event organized by the Islamic missionary organization in Markaz, Nizamuddin at the national capital. India is not the only country affected by the recklessness of the Tableeghi 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. They also lived in and around Delhi, the documents said. Referring to Saudi Arabia national Abdul Bukhary, as “a veteran jihadist”, the report prepared by US authorities in-charge of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, said a Jamaat member, whom he met in 1985-1986 helped to procure his visa for Pakistan. “One of the JT (Jamaat Tablighi) members procured detainee’s visa for Pakistan, after which detainee and another Saudi travelled to Lahore,” the report prepared on July 25, 2007 said.
“While in New Delhi, detainee was introduced to the leader of the JT and asked to make a life commitment to the organisation. Detainee told JT that he needed to think about it because he did not want to commit his life to servitude, pilgrimage, and missionary work. Detainee returned to Lahore for two weeks and then traveled to Saudi Arabia,” the document revealed by WikiLeaks said.
A report on Somalian detainee Mohammed Soliman Barre prepared on September 1, 2008, says, “JT, a proselytizing organisation, 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.
Yet another report mentions the Tablighi Jamaat. 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 centre 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. ”We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States, and we have found that Al Qaeda used them for recruiting, now and in the past,” Michael J. Heimbach, the then deputy chief of the F.B.I.’s international terrorism section, is quoted as saying in an NYT report from 2003.
Stratfor, a reputed geopolitical intelligence platform, published a detailed report on the Tablighi Jamaat and its links to the world of Global Jihad. The report says that 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.
Stratfor said further, “Because of the piety and strict belief system of the Tablighis and their focus on calling wayward Muslims back to an austere and orthodox Muslim faith, the movement has offered a place where jihadist spotters can look for potential recruits.” It added, “Although the TJ promotes a benign message, the same conservative Islamic values espoused by the Tablighis also are part of jihadist ideology, and so some Muslims attracted to the Tablighi movement are enticed into becoming involved with jihadists.”
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.
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 Tableeghi 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.