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Ashfaq: A hawala racketeer who financed terror
Krishnadas Rajagopal & Sumathi Chandrashekaran in New Delhi | October 31, 2005 20:21 IST
Pakistani national Arif alias Ashfaq, who was awarded a death sentence in the Red Fort attack case on Monday, is an international hawala racketeer financing terrorist activities in India.
Months before his conviction in the case, a Special Court in New Delhi had held Ashfaq guilty of masterminding an international hawala racket and slapped a fine of Rs 1.23 crore on him under the Foreign Exchange and Management Act, 1999.
The court's order on May 31, 2004 came after police laid bare the intricate network built by Ashfaq, within a year of his entering India in January 2000, to use hawala money to set up base and fund militant attacks in the national capital.
A lion's share of the illegal money (approximately Rs 40 lakh) was routed to his contact in Srinagar, Farooq Ahmed Qasid, to be disbursed among militants as 'monthly pay', the probe revealed. Qasid, who was convicted of waging war against the state along with Ashfaq in the Red Fort Atack case, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Ashfaq's Indian wife Rehmana Yousuf Farooqui, who was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment in the Red Fort attack case, had received a sum of Rs 2.80 lakh from him and the same was seized from her State Bank of India account in Ghazipur.
Documents, including passbooks, ATM cards and telephone numbers, recovered at the time of Ashfaq's arrest a day after the attack helped the police map out his money sources based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Ashfaq had used the services of two Afghan brothers - Sher Zaman and Sabarullah - based in Delhi's Dalaram Market to channelise the money sourced from LeT-operated companies in the Gulf and Pakistan.
Police raids on the shop came up with two stamped, blank Pakistani visas, over Rs 1 lakh in cash and a staple machine used for bundling currency notes. Both the brothers are absconding and have been declared Proclaimed Offenders. Besides, the court fined Sher Zaman Rs 63 lakh under Section 3 (b) of FEMA.
Police also traced Ashfaq's bank accounts in HDFC Bank's New Friends Colony branch and ANZ Grindlays Bank's Connaught Place branch in the capital, which showed that the accounts were used as a transit stop for money flow from abroad to Farooq's bank accounts in Srinagar.