The daily grind of running a major terror outfit not only involves planning major strikes, but also poring over account books and calculating assets and liabilities.
This interesting nugget of information is part of an article by Jacob N Shapiro, which elaborates how the much-feared bosses of terror networks rely on micro-management to keep their businesses afloat.
Shapiro claims that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over as the chief of the Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden's death in 2011, probably spends more time trying to tally funds than planning terror strikes.
According to officials in the Intelligence Bureau who have studied the pattern of various terror groups in India, the dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayiba functions differently.
But militant groups in north-east India have adopted the style of the Al Qaeda; their bosses have a finger in every organisational pie.
The leader of militant organisations in the north-east would know everything about an operation, from the name of each of the operatives to details about procurement of arms and funding operations.
In 2007, the United Liberation Front of Asom was rocked by reports about misappropriation of funds worth a few crores, as the money had not reached the top leadership.
The incident made the outfit change its style of functioning. Today, the ULFA reportedly maintains a log book and spread sheet to keep a record of all its financial transactions.
The Lashkar functions differently and its chief Hafiz Saeed keeps a tab on most of its activities. But this most-wanted terrorist does not have details of all the accounts of the outfit or the modus operandi to procure arms and ammunition.
Saeed does, however, know the detail of every terror strike. He personally goes through the nitty-gritty of each and every operation before granting his approval. As the ideological head of the LeT, he meets the terrorists designated to carry out the strike and offers a motivational talk.
The micro management of the Lashkar is conducted by its operational chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is currently in jail on charges of planning the 26/11 terror strike.
Officials in intelligence agencies point out that with the guidance of the Inter Services Intelligence, most funds for the operation are generated via charity, thanks to its front outfit Jammat-ud-Dawa. A detailed account book is maintained to keep track of the JuD's funds and no operative dares to fool around with the money. The operations head, before the terror strike, allocates a certain amount to each of the operatives.
After the death of Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda was clearly lost without a clear sense of either direction of purpose. That is why Zawahiri has so much on his platter; he has to plan the operation, organise funds, procure arms, motivate the terrorists and lead them into the destructive operation.
The Lashkar, on the other hand, has several senior operatives to take care of the various aspects of a terror strike.
While Lakhvi supervised the 26/11 strike, he did not participate in the daily operations of the Lashkar.
Other LeT terrorists including Sajid Mir, David Headley, Major Iqbal and Major Sameer handled their respective assignments but operated only on a need-to-know basis.
The LeT's mode of functioning indicates that the terror group, with the help of the ISI, has managed to keep its operatives under check.
Image: Ayman al-Zawahiri ' Photograph: Reuters