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Jihadis cheat bosses, pocket terror funds

Author: Mateen Hafeez, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 16, 2012
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Jihadis-cheat-bosses-pocket-terror-funds/articleshow/14967902.cms

Can dedicated jihadis involved in acts of terrorism also be selfish cheats out to line their own pocket? The answer seems to be a resounding yes going by the investigations into several bomb blast cases in the country. Not only foot-soldiers but even the top brass of the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) have duped their foreign-based handlers of lakhs of rupees. Money meant to fund terror activities or recruit new operatives was on many occasion siphoned off and used for 'personal benefit'.

 "The latest example was slain terror suspect Qateel Siddiqui who was murdered in Pune's Yerwada jail on June 8. He was paid Rs one lakh to enlist new faces into IM. However, when we questioned him about the use of money, he was reluctant to reply. On sustained interrogation, he admitted that he had spent the money on two girls, and that the IM top functionaries were unaware about it," said an officer in the state's anti-terrorism squad (ATS) who personally questioned him. Siddiqui was accused in the 2011 Delhi Jama Masjid firing case and the 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blast case. "Siddiqui told us that he was not interested in following IM's ideology but was more interested in getting funds for his personal use. He had even opposed several programmes of IM," the officer added.

Bhatkal invested funds in realty

 Among the more interesting stories about such self-serving mercenary terrorists is that of IM's Indian chief Yaseen Bhatkal alias Shahrukh. "Several suspects caught recently told us that Bhatkal wanted to become a developer," said the ATS officer. "To begin with, he invested Rs 14 lakh in an under-construction project in Nalasopara. The money had been routed to him by his foreign-based mentors in early 2010 to take care of the legal expenses of the IM members who were in jail. Nobody knew what he did with the money. We have learned that he was interested in investing more money in other projects. Perhaps the founder-members of IM and those who control the outfit's reins trust Bhatkal blindly," said the officer.

 Bhatkal, who is wanted in the German Bakery bomb blast case, the 13/7 triple blasts, the Delhi arms factory case and the Jama Masjid firing among others, allegedly oversees all IM operations in India. He has been able to dodge the police twice in the past. He even spent some time in a jail but police could not recognize him.

 The money is sent to IM operatives in India by the outfit's fund-raising members based either in Pakistan or the UAE through hawala.

    
Similar is the case of Mirza Himayat Baig, the lone arrested suspect in the German Bakery blast that killed 17. Baig attended a conspiracy meeting along with IM leader and accused Zabihuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal and Fayyaz Kagzi in Colombo prior to the blast. Later, he was sent Rs 12.5 lakh for the terror 'mission'. While he used Rs 10 lakh on operational expenses, the remaining Rs 2.5 lakh went towards paying off his various debts. "Most IM operatives use this modus operandi since there is no accountability where money is concerned in the outfit. The top functionaries are bothered only about operations. The money does not come out of their pockets and hence they do not care to keep tabs on it," said the officer.
 
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