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Saudi emerges as new haven for anti-India terrorists

October 15, 2012 15:54 IST

The recent arrests of three youth have given the Delhi Police a lot of information on the functioning of the Indian Mujahideen. While certain procedures pertaining to their operations have come out, the more important aspect has been how the Saudi Arabia module is helping IM carry out terror strikes in India, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

The Delhi Police have been questioning the three persons -- Asad Khan, Imran Khan and Sayed Feroze. While they have revealed details regarding their operation in which they planned on carrying out attacks at Bodh Gaya and New Delhi, they have also revealed the close links they shared with terror operatives such as Fayaz Kagzai, who plays the role of a middle man between the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Indian Mujahideen.

Kagzai had also facilitated arrested 26/11 handler Abu Jundal's stay in Saudi Arabia, Delhi Police sources reveal.

The interrogation of these youth has also revealed that it was through Kagzai that they were introduced into the Indian Mujahideen which today has its base in Saudi Arabia. They also told the police that they had met IM terrorist Iqbal Bhatkal in Saudi Arabia which was facilitated by Kagzai. Once the meeting took place through Iqbal, they were asked to coordinate with IM founder Yasin Bhatkal in India and the terror strikes were planned.

The trio also revealed that the entire command for the Indian Mujahideen is at Saudi Arabia and there is a dedicated team which handles the operatives in India. A lot of the operatives who form part of the top rung of the IM have moved into Saudi Arabia and they have been operating there since the past three years now. While the Bhatkal brothers have shifted base to Saudi Arabia, the likes of Abdus Subhan and Amir Reza Khan continue to remain in Pakistan.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that Saudi has become a more feasible option for the Indian Mujahideen. A majority of their funding comes out of Saudi Arabia and also they have a dedicated channel to transfer funds.

"Moreover, the Bhatkal brothers are well versed with the money channels and hence it makes their operations easier. The Kerala route for a fund transfer is the most preferred route", the IB sources add.

During the questioning of Abu Jundal it was revealed that he had been told to move from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia so that he could oversee the joint operations by the Lashkar and the IM. He also revealed that they found Saudi a safer country to operate out of. Moreover there is a lot of floating population between India and Saudi Arabia and this helps them in their operations as well.

The Saudi Arabia link to the Indian Mujahideen has cropped up several times in the past couple of years. When the 2010 Varanasi blasts took place, the police was on the trail of a person by the name of Asadullah Akthar. The police found that he had taken shelter in Saudi Arabia.

Following this was the arrest of Jundal who was again found to have taken shelter in Saudi Arabia. The recent arrests conducted in Karnataka in connection with an assassination plot also found that they were being handled by operatives in Saudi Arabia.

While Kagzai has been handling the bigger names in the IM, there is also a person Abdul Majid whose name has cropped up. Majid is a handler based in Saudi Arabia who has so far sent at least 50 terror recruits from India to Pakistan. He too is operating out of Saudi Arabia, police sources say.

Even during the investigation of the Bangalore assassination plot, all the relevant documents seized and also the call records have been traced back to Saudi Arabia.

The other name that is causing a headache for investigators is that of Majid Bilal, the brother of Shahid Bilal, a Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami operative from Hyderabad who was killed three years back.

Majid, according to the Hyderabad Police, is settled in Saudi Arabia and is also undertaking the job of facilitating the recruitments of youth.

Intelligence Bureau sources say that Saudi Arabia is emerging as a major hub for these groups. There has been steady funding from this country for groups such as the Students Islamic Movement of India and the IM. Most of the money is landing in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and later being distributed.

A majority of the funds from Saudi Arabia are raised through donations under the banner of Khilafat, which means help the needy.

The IM has managed to raise a considerable amount of money through such banners. Sources in the IB point out that they have managed to raise nearly Rs 45 crore in the past two years and a chunk of this money has come in from Saudi Arabia.

India however feels that it is easier to fight this battle now that the operatives have moved to Saudi Arabia thanks to a treaty. Saudi Arabia has been cooperative in the war against terror provided there is ample evidence given by Indian authorities.

India, however, says that the biggest worry is the flow of funds and there is a joint exercise required with Saudi in order to stem this rot.

Vicky Nanjappa