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26/11 terror trail leads to Spain, Thailand

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 15:15 IST

26/11 terror trail leads to Spain, Thailand

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The arrest of Al Qaeda operatives in Spain and Thailand has once again revealed the burgeoning nexus between terror outfits and criminal gangs across the world.

The Mumbai police and the Intelligence Bureau are trying to find out whether the recently arrested operatives supplied fake documents to Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists who carried out the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, sources told rediff.com.

Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa


Image: Police officers take an arrested man into a car after a police operation in Barcelona.The Spanish police have arrested at least 11 people in Barcelona and Valencia suspected of forging documents for Al Qaeda
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
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The National Investigation Agency too has been looking closely at the developments. An official of the IB or the Mumbai police may visit Spain to garner more information about the investigation.

The IB is also focussing on the links of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's gang with the terror operations. Dawood, who runs a drug racket, has a strong presence in Spain and Thailand.

 


Image: One of the arrested suspects in Spain
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
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26/11 terror trail leads to Spain, Thailand

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According to the information available with Indian agencies, the gang that has been busted deals with forging passports, documents and providing SIM cards to nefarious elements. Athar Butt, one of the accused, is not a member of any terror group. He used to forge documents for the D gang, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Al Qaeda.

He operates from Bangkok and has been involved in forging documents for the last two decades. These men do not play a direct role in any of the terror operations. They are contacted by middlemen when their services are required, according to IB sources.


Image: Another arrested suspect
Photographs: Reuters
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Sources say that these criminals probably started off as small-time touts, then branched off into forgery after coming in touch with underworld operatives. Initially, this gang prepared fake documents to help members of the underworld travel to other countries under fake names. Later, they were roped in to do the same job for terror outfits.

Today, this gang is well-connected and operates in multiple countries including Thailand, Belgium, Spain and Dubai.

This gang also employs small time thieves to steal passports and other documents, mainly from tourists, to help make fake documents. The IB says this is a very important part of any terror operation, since forged travel documents help terrorists enter other countries and carry out a strike. The gang busted recently has created fake documents for both Al Qaeda and Lashkar for nearly ten years and their operatives have used these documents to gain entry into various countries including the US, India and Britain.


 


Image: A man holds a poster reading 'No War, No Terrorism, Yes to Peace' in Madrid
Photographs: Reuters
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According to sources, this gang could have supplied fake Indian documents for the 26/11 terror attacks. The Laskhar and the Inter Services Intelligence wanted the operation to look like it has originated from India, so the documents belonged to Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

A similar gang had been busted in Italy a year ago, but no connection was found to the 26/11 attack. Indian agencies are hopeful about getting some concrete leads from the recently arrested gang.

 


Image: Thousands of Spaniards holding posters march against terrorism in Madrid
Photographs: Reuters
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Indian agencies suspect that this gang could have been in contact with local thieves in India to procure stolen documents, revealing local help in carrying out the 26/11 attacks.

The IB further points out that the arrests are a big blow to terror outfits since using fake documents is a crucial part of any terror operation.

 


Image: Indians shout slogans during a protest, demanding that Pakistan hand over Dawood Ibrahim
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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