The Indian Mujahideen earlier relied on extortions and arms smuggling but has now realised that donations are a better and safer way to collect funds for its operations, reports Vicky Nanjappa.
Money raised through arms smuggling, circulation of fake currency, hawala transactions, extortions and diverting political fund has today made the Indian Mujahideen worth Rs 45 crore, say sources in the police and the Intelligence Bureau.
This staggering figure makes it without a doubt the richest homegrown terror outfit till date. The question, however, is, despite so much of scrutiny and tightening of their operations, how have they managed to raise such a large sum of money? Also, if they raised the money, how did they manage to park it without being noticed?
Investigating agencies found that the money has been parked in certain establishments in India and also in other places such as Sharjah and Saudi Arabia. The money that is parked outside the country is used from time to time during an operation and in many cases transferred through a hawala deal. While this is a common practice, the money is also, at times, parked with trusted members with business enterprises.
Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay, points out that the money is often parked with trusted aides and businessmen. Whether there is parking of funds with political parties, especially the smaller ones, is something the Intelligence Bureau needs to dig further.
According to a report of the Intelligence Bureau, while the Indian Mujahideen's operations through hawala and extortion can be tracked, what the police are finding hard to find out is the money raised through donations. These donations have not only been collected from India, a sizeable sum has also come from other countries as well.
Investigations reveal that the donations have not been collected by the IM alone; other groups too have lent money to the organisation.
Sahay says that the transactions that are hard to keep track of are the ones which have been carried out abroad. Money is pumped into these outfits through various channels. Take for instance the case of the Jamat-ur-Dawa and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. They keep boxes outside mosques in Pakistan and very openly collect money in the name of charity. We are well aware that a major percentage of this goes to the Inter-Services Intelligence, while the rest is used by them for their activities.
Money raised has been the highest during the time of the Haj pilgrimage, Sahay points out. "We have seen how a person like Syed Salahuddin (Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief) used to frequent the Gulf at the time of Haj and collect money. It was an open secret what the money was being used for," adds Sahay.
In the case of the Indian Mujahideen too, the agencies found that a similar strategy was being adopted. They have been collecting funds under pseudo names. They either say it is for some relief work or the betterment of the community. They even manage to extract donations out of unassuming pilgrims who genuinely believe that there is a cause.
The amount that is raised is immediately parked with sympathisers who run businesses. This money remains in circulation. When the group is in need of money they approach the businessman, who either hands over the money or carries out a hawala transaction. Investigations into the August Pune blasts found a trail of hawala money, which was transferred by a businessman.
For the investigators, tracking funds of the IM is nothing short of a nightmare. They operate under all sorts of names and the transactions are never to one specific location. Also, they transfer a small sum to avoid suspicion.
For instance, to carry out an operation, the funds required do not land up in one place. A part of it is sent to Delhi, while the remaining to Kerala. Once the money is received, a foot soldier collects and delivers it personally.
Indian agencies say that the IM is fashioning itself on the lines of its mother outfit, the Lashkar. It is adopting the same strategy to raise funds. The IM earlier relied on extortions and arms smuggling in a big way, but now has realised that donations are a better and safer way to collect funds.
Although the Indian agencies are aware that the estimated sum raised by the IM is around Rs 45 crore, it does realise that tracking where the money has been parked is one of the most daunting tasks.