CHENNAI: A person claiming to be a member of Tablighi Jamaat [TJ] in Bangalore has sent a legal notice objecting to the article written by S Gurumurthy in TNIE [dated 2.4.2020] titled “Tablighi Jamaat -- Its other, evil side” as defamatory. While TNIE has responded to the notice, significantly, no official of TJ has so far challenged the contents of the article.
Without disputing the information put forth in public domain for over two decades and cited by the writer, the notice consciously repeats them, while alleging the article as being inflammatory, creating enmity/hatred towards members of TJ and constituting Islamophobia.
In its response, TNIE has said that TJ is not equal to Islam as the notice itself says it is one of the Muslim organisations in India. As there is not a word against Islam in it, the article cannot be alleged as Islamophobia. The statement made in article that TJ attracts idealistic young Muslims into an ideological line that turns them into terrorists is based on available evidence. The TJ member’s notice has also contradicted itself, first asserting TJ as one of the largest Muslim movements in the world then U-turning to say that TJ in India has nothing to do with TJ elsewhere. The reply pointed out that TJ in Pakistan was formed by TJ. Also, an article in Livemint [Sept 16, 2013] cites counter terrorism expert Ajai Sahni as saying TJ “is an international organization with intimate links to the Pakistan Tablighi Jamaat”.
The reply demonstrated how evidence cited by TNIE has been in the public domain for over 20 years and has not disputed, challenged or proceeded in law by the Tablighi Jamaat anywhere. Even the book, “On the Abyss”, authored by scholars, writers and diplomats including Pakistanis, linking TJ to extremism, published in India and in Delhi in the year 2000 by a publisher situated just a stone’s throw from the TJ headquarters in Nizamuddin was not challenged by the Jamaat. The other investigations relied on by the writer and not objected or sued upon by TJ listed in the reply are:
• Craig Smith’s investigation published in New York Times 2005 linking TJ activists to the 9/11 terror attack on US, to Afghanistan extremism and to Al-Qaeda
• Investigation by Fred Burton and Scott Stewart titled “Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism” the year 2008 in the Stratfor Global Intelligence Security Weekly linking TJ to terror including the London train bombing that killed 52 persons
• Pakistani security analyst Dr Farhan Zahid’s analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat and its links with terrorism” published in the year 2015 in Foreign Analysis issue of Centre Francais de Reserche Sur le Renseignement, calling TJ as gateway to terror, associating it to terror instances and saying it formed the terrorist organisations later outlawed by the UN.
• US FBI Assistant director’s statement published in 2015 in New York Post that TJ activists were recruited by Al-Qaeda
• Alex Alexiev’s analysis that appeared in the year 2016 Middle East Quarterly linking TJ to terrorism
• The 173-page long paper titled “Tablighi Jamaat: Wolf in sheep’s skin” was written by in the year 2018 by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, multi award winning anti-jihadist journalist and counter-terorism specialist, which was again put out in the public domain after the outbreak of coronavirus and TJ’s role in spreading it.
• “The road to Sri Lanka Carnage” written in the popular site Rediff. com in April 2019 by well known security analyst Praveen Swami linking TJ activist Mohammad Muhsin Nilam, a Sri Lankan, to Zahran Hashim who did the Colombo carnage
• India Abroad News Service [IANS] report on April 1, 2020 [a day before the NIE article] titled “Tablighi Jamaat shares links with terror outfits” which linked TJ to 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay and to the burning of 59 karsevaks in Godhra and to terror organisations
Citing the evidence undisputed by TJ, TNIE’s reply has told the TJ member to sue the newspaper at his own cost.
The full text of the TJ member’s notice and the NIE response are reproduced below.
Legal notice received by The New Indian Express
Response of The New Indian Express