With funds for terror activities drying up due to intense crackdown by authorities, terror outfits are resorting to alternative means -- like carrying out robberies -- to raise money for their plans.
Terror groups such as the People's Liberation Front of India, Indian Mujahideen and certain modules of the Harkat-ul-Jihadi in Kerala have all adopted this method. While acts of robbery may indicate sheer desperation, it also blurs the trail to the financial channel of the group.
Hawala used to be a favourite way for garnering funds, but the focus is now on a recent spate of recent robberies, an investigator probing the Pune blast case told rediff.com.
An incident that took place nearly eight years ago illustrates how terror acts and robberies are intrinsically related. K P Shabeer and his accomplice Ismail had stolen two kg of gold from a goldsmith in Kochi, Kerala, under the leadership of Tadiyantavide Nasir. Investigations later revealed that this money was used to carry out the attack on the Ernakulam Collectorate in 2009 and an attack at the Coimbatore Press Club.
Nasir used the same tactic to fund the Bangalore serial blasts. He confessed during questioning that he ran a gang of robbers, which stole gold, cash and even vehicles, to find their terror activities.
Riazuddin Nasir, an operative from Hyderabad, was arrested in connection with the Gujarat blasts and a planned attack in Goa. But he was arrested not for terror plots, but for stealing vehicles in Karnataka, which he planned to sell to raise money for the operation.
Sleuths of the National Investigation Agency, which is hot on the trail of the Indian Mujahideen, believe that IM operatives team up with local gangsters in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Incidents of chain snatching, bank robberies etc have always been traced back to IM operatives.
IM operatives had initially relied heavily on hawala money and donations and also dabbled in dealing in weapon sales. The intense scrutiny by investigating agencies forced them to change their tactic and resort to robberies.
Anjum Tariq Hasan, a suspected member of the IM, revealed that they had been told by the group's top brass to carry out such robberies and their target list included jewellery stores, banks and shops.
Incidentally, members of the People's Liberation Front of India were recently apprehended after they robbed a businessman in Jharkhand of Rs 15 lakh.
Although probe agencies are catching in on the connection between robberies and terror acts, minor operatives are likely to continue with such acts, as they won't be funded by major outfits like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba for each and every operation. By raising money for such acts, these operatives plan to impress bigger terror groups and get inducted into their ranks.
Smaller operatives in HuJI or IM may be in disarray as they receive no proper organisational support.
When funds for terror activities are raised by such nefarious means, it becomes difficult to track the source and the destination of the money, thus hampering the investigation, according to an official of the Intelligence Bureau.