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Dawood funding SIMI terror campaign, says intelligence

Dawood funding SIMI terror campaign, says intelligence

Author: Vishwa Mohan
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 22, 2008
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Dawood_funding_SIMI_terror_campaign_says_intelligence/rssarticleshow/3391080.cms

Fugitive Mumbai mafiosi Dawood Ibrahim has been identified as one of those funding banned jihadi outfit SIMI's terror campaign against India, in what is seen as disturbing disclosure of the jihadi-underworld nexus.

According to a dossier prepared by intelligence agencies, Dawood, who masterminded the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, has been routing funds to SIMI through an aeronautical engineer, C A M Basheer, from Kerala. Said to be SIMI's chief fundraiser, Basheer, who looked after the operations of the banned outfit in Kerala, is now holed up somewhere in Saudi Arabia. The matter came up for discussion in a high-level meeting on SIMI in the wake of new facts which emerged during the probe of Ahmedabad serial blasts.
Though SIMI's footprints had been traced in earlier terror incidents, including Mumbai serial blasts and Malegaon bombings as well, the focus this time was on its 50 fronts and their funding which is being handled by Basheer through his network.

It was also specifically mentioned in the meeting that Basheer, who hails from Aluva in Ernakulam district, had made Kerala one of the strongest bases of SIMI - a fact which also came to light after the arrest of 10 terrorists, including Mufti Abu Bashar of Azamgarh, UP, in connection with the Ahmedabad serial blasts.

Dawood's links should not surprise the counter-terror agencies. Those tracking the chief of the notorious D-Company are sure that Pakistan's ISI - which instigated the don, tapping into the gang's anger against the communal riots in the city to organise the terrorist aggression against Mumbai in 1993 - has since fully co-opted him into its battle against India. But evidence that SIMI has access to the underworld's huge coffers should deepen worries about the jihadi outfit whose resilience and reach has come as a surprise.

Basheer went underground in 2001 when the outfit was first banned. His dossier reveals that he had been funding not only SIMI but also most of its fronts utilizing his links with Dawood and his cronies in the Gulf countries by creating a corpus under "Muslim Defence Fund".

After completing his aeronautical engineering course from Cochin University, Basheer had joined a flight training institute in Bangalore in the 1980s. Later, he shifted to Mumbai where he developed his links with underworld operatives. Attended by top officials from states, Intelligence Bureau and home ministry, the meeting on Thursday also outlined the modalities to go all out against these fronts by keeping records of the activities of each and every individual associated with the groups.

"Representatives of states were asked to gather concrete evidence against these fronts so that these can be banned like their parent body SIMI," said a senior official.

It was also decided in the meeting that the home ministry would soon write to UP - where 34 districts are considered to be sensitive as far as activities of SIMI are concerned - urging it to ban the outfit.

The move assumes significance in view of Mayawati government's willingness to bring SIMI in the banned category, provided the state gets sufficient evidence. It is learnt that the home ministry would provide the state with evidence which has been emerging during the course of Ahmedabad and Jaipur serial blasts probe - making a strong case for SIMI's ban in UP which, incidentally, also traced the outfit's footprints in bomb blasts in Faizabad, Lucknow and Varanasi. It was disclosed in the meeting that while four of the total 50 SIMI fronts were working at an all-India level, 46 of them were active in seven states and Delhi.

The maximum 23 of them are active in Kerala followed by eight in Maharashtra, seven in West Bengal, three in Bihar, two in UP and one each in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi. Though the respective state police have been keeping watch on these fronts, they - as home ministry feels - are not "watchful enough" to crack evidence of their direct links with SIMI. "After all, one has to have concrete evidence to ban them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and subsequently prove it in the courts," said a senior officer.

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