Foreign Policy Journal
December 21, 2008
Indian police last week arrested Hassan Ali Khan, who was wanted for investigations into money laundering and other illicit activities, and who is also said to have ties to Dawood Ibrahim, the underworld kingpin who evidence indicates was the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month.
Ibrahim is also alleged to have close ties with both Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency and the CIA.
Another character linked to the CIA whose name is now beginning to figure into the web of connections between the Mumbai attacks, criminal organizations, and intelligence agencies is Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, of Iran-Contra infamy. Khashoggi has been implicated in arms deals with drug traffickers and terrorist groups, including within India.
Dawood Ibrahim is a known major drug trafficker whom India claims is being protected by Pakistan. As Foreign Policy Journal previously reported, there are also some indications that the CIA has a similar interest in preventing Ibrahim from being handed over to India. Ibrahim is wanted by India for the recent Mumbai attacks as well as for bombings that occurred there in 1993.
Ibrahim is a native of India who rose through the ranks of the criminal underworld in Bombay (now Mumbai). According to media reports in India, he got his start as an undercover informant for the police at a young age and thus has an intimate knowledge of Indian law enforcement and intelligence, and is alleged to have fostered close ties with individuals within the political system.
Another known associate of Ibrahim’s in Mumbai, Mohammed Ali, is suspected of assisting the terrorists, who were met by an individual in Uran before continuing on to Mumbai, where inflatable rubber dinghies had been arranged to take them ashore by the same individual. Numerous earlier press accounts indicated that the dinghies, along with other logistical assistance, were provided by an associate of Ibrahim’s.
The Times of India, for instance, reported on November 28 that according to police sources the Mumbai attack “was enabled by the Dawood Ibrahim gang”, and that “It would not have been possible to carry out a terror operation on this scale without a collaborative local network and this was provided by the D Gang. As the terrorists had entered via the sea, the needle of suspicion is clearly pointing at Mohammed Ali, the new poinstman of Dawood.”
Yet Indian news reports indicate that officials have been slow to act against Hassan Ali Khan, and Mohammed Ali continues smuggling operations out of Mumbai for Ibrahim’s crime syndicate, D-Company, completely unmolested by Indian investigators and law enforcement.
As the November 28 Times of India article observed, Ali “is known to indulge in smuggling of diesel, petroleum, naptha, drugs and arms with impunity and it appears that the terrorists had used his networks to enter the city by the sea route…. Despite having a detailed dossier on him, the authorities have not taken any action against him. What is more worrying is that Ali is believed to have also penetrated naval intelligence.”
A further report from the Times of India on December 4 noted that Dawood Ibrahim is “sitting pretty in Karachi” under the protection of Pakistan and his “hawala channel between Mumbai and Karachi remains busy”. “But central agencies question why the Maharashtra government has not taken any action against the D-company here.”
“‘What’s the point of asking Islamabad to hand over Dawood when we’re not doing anything to destroy his empire in Mumbai and other places in India?’ a senior official asked.”
The article observed that Mohammed Ali “continues to operate with impunity.
Again, on December 11, Times of India reported that “Mumbai police has still not called Ali for questioning”, adding that “Ali is also known to have the backing of two powerful politicians of south Mumbai and that could be the reason why he is still untouched.”
In addition to links to Ibrahim, both men are also alleged, like Ibrahim himself, to have ties to political officials in India, and there are numerous other indications emerging that the attacks were assisted by elements within India being protected by the political establishment.
Hassan Ali Khan
India’s Daily News & Analysis reported last week that it appears Hassan Ali Khan “was part of a multi-crore [Indian numerical unit equivalent to ten-millions] hawala syndicate racket and may have joined hands with the organized crime operated by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. He is also suspected to have funded terror organizations.”
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) “had also told the Bombay High Court that there were indications that Ali was part of a strong international crime syndicate with money flowing in from ‘proceeds of heinous crimes like terrorism, arms trade, gun running, corruption and organized forgery’.”
A series of news reports from March 2007 in the Times of India revealed that Khan was being investigated for money laundering and other illicit activities. A laptop recovered from his home showed that he had accounts at a Swiss bank. Khan had reportedly tried to take advantage of tax waivers granted on investments originating outside India in countries with double taxation avoidance agreements with India. The funds were also be used to invest in the stock market.
Khan would send funds abroad through illegal channels and re-route them into India through shell companies in countries with such a tax arrangement with India. According to the Times of India, “Khan has no known sources of income in India but owns stud farms and often travels abroad.” His wealth is estimated to be in the billions, and he owns property in Mumbai and Pune.
Investigators from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) “had crucial input from the Intelligence Bureau, which was concerned about this unaccounted money having implications for national security.”
One of the countries used to route money back into India was Mauritius, an island chain off the east coast of Africa near Madagascar and a former British colony. The UK still maintains a military presence there. It expelled the inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia in order to turn it into a military base, which has also been used by the US for its own military operations.
According to reports, prior to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a team had been sent ahead and checked into the Taj Mahal hotel, one of the key targets of the attacks, and established a control room where they had food, weapons, and other supplies waiting in anticipation of the siege of the hotel by police and special forces. An identification card from Mauritius was used to check into the room.
Hassan Ali Khan has an interest in horse-racing and trades in thoroughbreds. The Times of India reported that “he had attracted attention on the Pune racing turf where he surfaced about five years ago as a small-time punter who suddenly became one of the biggest players. His contacts, by default, were with some of the top industrialists who have an interest in horse-trading.”
Last February, the Hindustan Times reported that the Swiss bank involved in the money transfers, USB (United Bank of Switzerland) AG, was reluctant to assist Indian investigators, and the investigation had been stalled as a result. The ED had advised the Indian government not to approve a plan by UBS AG to buy Standard Chartered Bank, an Indian mutual fund business, because of its lack of cooperation in tracking Khan’s money transfers. According to the ED, Khan had $8 billion in the bank’s accounts.
The Hindustan Times also revealed that there was evidence that Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi of Iran-Contra infamy had transferred $300 million to Khan from a Chase Manhattan bank account in New York. It added that Khashoggi’s “arms supplies to Tamil terrorists, the LTTE, were revealed during an investigation into the 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.”
Khashoggi acted as a middle-man during the Iran-Contra affair, brokering an arrangement for Israel to sell US arms from its own stockpiles to Iran. The CIA then channeled money from the sales to the Contras in support of their terrorist war against the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua. The World Court later condemned the United States for the “unlawful use of force” - a euphemism for international terrorism or the even greater crime of a war of aggression.
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen recently reported that, according to Asian intelligence sources, Khashoggi was also involved with the CIA in an effort to support Bosnian Muslims that “brought [Dawood] Ibrahim and [Osama] Bin Laden into the same big CIA tent, along with Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a key Iran-contra figure in George H. W. Bush’s global arms smuggling venture while he served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan. There have been reports that Ibrahim considers Khashoggi to be a hero figure.”
In 1991, a Defense Intelligence Agency report listed Khashoggi as “An international arms trafficker who allegedly has sold arms to the Colombian drug traffickers, especially to the Medellin Cartel.”
The DIA report also listed Washington’s man in Columbia, Alvaro Uribe Velez, as “A Colombian politician and senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medillin Cartel at high government levels. Uribe was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the US…. Uribe has worked for the Medillin Cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria.”
Uribe is now the President of Colombia, which receives enormous amounts of US financing and military support, surpassed perhaps only by US support for Israel, Egypt, and now Iraq.
Manuel Noriega was another infamous narcotics trafficker and CIA asset, as well as a graduate of the School of Americas (SOA), which has since changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). The SOA was responsible for training numerous Latin American dictators and military commanders who were responsible for torturing, murdering, or otherwise “disappearing” countless political opponents and other individuals.
Colombia is also another case where the government has been caught red-handed staging false-flag terrorist attacks. In the late 1970s, a series of bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations against leftist targets was carried out by a terrorist group known as the American Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA or Triple-A). Documents available online at the George Washington University National Security Archives confirm that Triple-A “was secretly created and staffed by members of Colombian military intelligence in a plan authorized by then-army commander Gen. Jorge Robledo Pulido.”
John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, wrote in his follow-up book The Secret History of the American Empire that a second lieutenant in the US army sent to Colombia to establish a “United States-commanded Southern Unified Army” told him, “Everything we do in Colombia just makes it more attractive for the drug business. Why do you think the situation keeps getting worse there? Because we want it to, we’re behind the drug trafficking. The CIA is–just like it was in Asia’s Golden Triangle.”One might add the “Golden Crescent” to that list. As Foreign Policy Journal previously reported, Dawood Ibrahim “is known to be a major drug trafficker responsible for shipping narcotics into the United Kingdom and Western Europe.” While most Afghan opium is smuggled to Europe over land through Iran and Turkey, much of the amount that goes to Pakistan seems to be taken either by plane or by ship directly to the Europe, principally the UK.
While Pakistan claims Ibrahim is not even in the country, India insists he has been living in Karachi under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
The ISI worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war and acted as the CIA’s intermediary to provide funding, weapons, and training to the Afghan mujahedeen. The opium trade was used to finance the CIA-backed mujahedeen, and the principle beneficiary of CIA support was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, who was also a principle drug lord.
And while Western media accounts typically tend to characterize today’s opium trade as being under the control of the Taliban, the fact is that the estimated amount of funds going to the Taliban and all other anti-government elements combined is less than 14 percent of the total estimated export value, and US intelligence agencies are aware of the involvement of high-level officials within the Afghanistan government in the drug trade, such as Rashid Abdul Dostum, former Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Armed Forces. Dostum was also among the warlords of the Northern Alliance the CIA doled out suitcases of cash to during the initial phase of the US war to overthrow the Taliban.
Viktor Ivanov, the director of Russia’s federal anti-narcotics service, said in an interview recently that “The gathered inputs testify that infamous regional drug baron Dawood Ibrahim had provided his logistics network for preparing and carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks by the militants.” He added that “The super profits of the narco-mafia through Afghan heroin trafficking have become a powerful source of financing organized crime and terrorist networks, destabilizing the political systems, including in Central Asia and Caucasus.”
A Protected Man in India
The $300 million transfer to Hassan Ali Khan from Adnan Khashoggi was “only the tip of the iceberg”, an official from ED told the Hindustan Times. There was also evidence of another $290 million, for instance, in two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands. This was among the evidence obtained from the laptop computer seized from Khan’s home in Pune.
In addition to the money transfers, the ED was investigating Khan’s possession of three Indian passports. He held passports issued from Pune, Patna, and Mumbai, and had also applied for additional passports from Guwahati and Chandigarh. He and his wife had applied for citizenship in Switzerland.
But it wasn’t only the Swiss bank’s apparent unwillingness to cooperate with Indian investigators that was slowing progress in the inquiry into Khan’s dealings. The Times of India reported in February that although the Prevention of Money Laundering Act provided for his arrest, the ED had yet to do so. The ED was “acting cautiously in this case, sources said.” The paper added that “It is shocking that Khan could have concealed all that money without Indian agencies getting to know of it.”
The report says that “The lack of evidence on the transactions seems to have prevented ED from arresting Khan”, while at the same time noting that “The alleged presence of names of Indian politicians also found from Khan’s initial questioning by the income tax and ED officials immediately after the raid last year, don’t figure anywhere in the submissions made by the ED to the HC [High Court]. The Income tax department has failed to get information from the ED on the sources of the $8 bn, despite asking for it again and again.”
In September, the Times of India reported that the intelligence community was “seething with anger for being blamed by politicians for its ‘failure’ to prevent” a series of bombings across the country. A senior intelligence official responded to the charges by telling the Times of India that it was the politicians who were at fault, and connected Khan to investigations of terrorism.
“Take the case of Hassan Ali, the Pune-based businessman,” he said. “He was under the scanner of several Central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and other bodies. Finally it was found that he had handled hawala transactions valued at a mind-numbing Rs 35,000 crore through Swiss banks.”
Hawala is an informal money transfer system that is an alternative to formal banking institutions. Often, relatively little money actually exchanges hands between hawala brokers, who operate on an honor system. An amount deposited with one broker is not actually moved to another broker on the receiving end. Rather, that amount is simply taken from the receiving broker’s own reserves. The only funds that actually need be transferred are those used to offset imbalances between brokers, and there is no record of the transaction between the sender of the funds and the beneficiary.
The hawala system is thus ideal for moving illicit funds and for money laundering. According to a World Bank report, “The bulk of drug-related financial flows within Afghanistan, and also to and from neighboring countries (primarily Pakistan), occur through the ubiquitous hawala (informal financial transfer) system.”
The report also notes that “Dubai appears to be a central clearing point for international hawala activities, and various cities in Pakistan also are major transaction centers.” Dubai is a central location for the financial operations of Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company.
The September article from the Times of India continued, “The bank accounts were traced and he [Khan] was brought in for interrogation. How was it possible for a businessman to have access to so much cash, was the question on everyone’s mind. The probe was stymied midway by vested interests with political clout. Ali has done the vanishing act. His wife and brother-in-law too are missing. ‘Why was he allowed to go scot free?’ asked an IPS [Indian Police Service] officer.
“Sources said there was no evidence of any concrete link between Ali and terror funds. ‘Nevertheless, why was he taken off the hook? In any other country, he would have been put through the grind given the volume of his transactions. But in India he has been treated with kid gloves because of the political backing that he enjoys,’ another official said.
“In another case, the Mumbai crime branch had gathered evidence about the alleged links between a famous Pune businessman and Pakistan-based brother of don Dawood Ibrahim, Anees Ibrahim.
“An eyewitness gave a detailed account of the goings-on between the businessman and Hamid Antulay, Dawood’s nephew in Dubai, and later between the trader and Anees in Karachi. However, the businessman has not been arrested despite the disclosures made more than a year ago. ‘We are expected to fight crime, but politicians do not give us a free hand,’ a crime branch officer complained.”
The Times of India also noted that “Dawood Ibrahim’s key contact person is Mohammed Ali, who is known to control smuggling operations in city docks. ‘Any consignment can be taken out or brought into the country by Ali’s huge gang. A detailed dossier on his activities, which has serious security implications for the country, has been sent to the Union home department. But there has been no response so far,’ an official said.”
Mohammed Ali also seems to be a protected person in India. Just days after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Times of India stated that Mumbai residents “now know their government has done nothing at all to protect the country’s financial capital”, and again noted that “The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has sent a detailed dossier about the activities of one Mohammed Ali, who is the uncrowned king of the docks. A close aide of Karachi-based terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, Ali smuggles petrol, diesel, drugs, arms and other contraband with impunity.”
”There are strong indications,” the Times of India added, “that the D-gang actively collaborated with the terrorists in these attacks. And yet, the government is reluctant to move against Ali and his gang because he enjoys the patronage of a powerful politician, known to be a business partner of Dawood.”
The article adds, however, that “Any terror operations needs vast funds, via the hawala route. But the authorities are still to crack down on hawala operators. Recently, they picked up Hasan Ali, a racehorse owner in Pune.
“A joint probe by the IB [Intelligence Bureau], enforcement directorate [ED] and directorate of revenue intelligence revealed that Hasan Ali had handled hawala transactions worth a whopping Rs 35,000 crore, much of it belonging to two Maharashtra politicians.”
A police officer told the Times of India at the time, before his recent arrest and while he was still missing, “I will not be surprised if Hasan Ali has been done away with. He is the man who knows too much.”
Hemant Karkare and False Flag Terror
Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who also formerly an officer in India’s Research Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency, had been in the spotlight for leading the investigation into a series of bombings in the town of Malegaon that was originally blamed on Pakistani-based Muslim terrorists. But Karkare’s probe revealed that the perpetrators were in fact Hindu extremists. Included in the arrests was a serving army officer, Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
The revelations of false-flag terrorism being carried out by home-grown elements sent shock waves through the political establishment.
As the Independent reported on November 23, just days before the attacks on Mumbai, “Bomb attacks are not uncommon in India - there has been a flurry in recent months - but police usually blame them on Muslim extremists, often said to have links to militant groups based in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. As a result, the recent cracking of the alleged Hindu cell has forced India to face some difficult issues. A country that prides itself on purported religious and cultural toleration - an ambition that in reality often falls short - has been made to ask itself how this cell could operate for so long. India’s military, which prides itself on its professionalism, has been forced to order an embarrassing inquiry.
“The near-daily drip of revelations from police has also caused red faces for India’s main political opposition, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of state polls and a general election scheduled for early next year. The BJP and its prime ministerial candidate, Lal Krishna Advani, have long accused the Congress Party-led government of being soft on terrorism that involved Muslims. However, the BJP has refused to call for a clampdown on Hindu groups, and last week Mr Advani even criticized the police over the way they questioned one of the alleged cell members…”
Karkare was put under immense political pressure and was heavily criticized by Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) leaders and members of the BJP. He had received a number of death threats as a result of his investigation, including a threatening call just one day prior to the attacks in Mumbai last month.
Karkare was killed during those attacks. Rumors with far-reaching implications began to spread immediately that he had been deliberately targeted.
Images of Karkare putting on an ill-fitted bullet proof vest just before his death were widely shown on Indian television. Indian Express noted, “His last visuals as seen on TV showed him working with his men near the VT station [Victoria Terminus, the former name of the Chatrapati Shivaji central train station], the target of one of the attacks, although it is perplexing at this point in time why such a senior officer ended up getting exposed to a brazen terrorist attack. Initially, he was shown wearing a shoddy helmet normally seen used by constables during riots. A little later, a policeman lowers a flimsy bulletproof vest over his shoulders, one that was obviously of little protection when those fatal shots were fired at him.”
According to the Pakistan Daily Mail, Karkare and several of his colleagues “had received information that their colleague Sadanand Dutt had been injured in the gunfire at the Cama and Albless Hospital for women and children.” As they were driving their truck to the scene, according to the only police officer to survive that attack, Arun Jadhav, “two terrorists stepped out from behind a tree and opened fire with automatic rifles”.
The Daily Mail article implicated Hindutva elements and Indian intelligence in terrorist attacks, stating that Bal Thakeray, the leader of Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party, has “publicly pronounced in the past to setup Hindu suicide squads to target Muslims in India and Pakistan”, and claiming that “The terrorist activities and training needs of these groups are closely coordinated by the Indian intelligence agencies, particularly RAW”, which “trained the Tamil separatists groups of Sri Lanka such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) to start [a] militant secessionist movement based on terrorism in the Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula.”
A government investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Jain Commission, in fact confirmed that “The LTTE was getting its supplies, including arms, ammunition, explosives, fuel and other essential items for its war in northern Sri Lanka against the Indian Peace Keeping Force from Tamil Nadu. That too with the support of the Tamil Nadu government and the connivance of the law enforcement authorities.”
As noted previously, the investigation found that Adnan Khoshoggi had dealt arms to the LTTE. The commission’s report also noted that LTTE’s involvement in arms smuggling and other illicit activities “were tolerated” and that a number of murders demonstrated the “impunity with which the LTTE could operate in India.”
Earlier this week, Amin Solkar, a lawyer in Mumbai, pressed the High Court to launch an independent investigation into the circumstances under which Karkare was killed. According to India Today, “The Muslims in Malegaon have always claimed Karkare was killed by Hindutva militants and not by Qasab.”
“Qasab” is an alternate spelling for “Kasab”, a reference to Azam Amir Kasab, the only terrorist from last month’s attacks to be captured alive. A transcript of his confession to interrogators was leaked to the media and contains the following statements: “When we were coming out of the hospital premises, we suddenly saw one police vehicle passing in front of us. Therefore, we took shelter behind a bush.
“Another vehicle passed in front of us and stopped at some distance. One police officer got down from the said vehicle and started firing at us. One bullet hit my hand and my AK-47 dropped down. I bent to pick it up when second bullet hit me on the same hand. I got injured. Ismail opened fire at the officers who were in said vehicle. They got injured and firing from their side stopped.” Kasab and his companion, Ismail, then removed the bodies of three dead officers and apprehended the vehicle.
Assuming this incident is the one in which Karakare and his colleagues were killed, this characterization of events seems to cast doubt on the theory that the officials were deliberately targeted for assassination, set up and ambushed. But the Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria, who is in charge of the investigation into the attacks, Rakesh Maria, has rejected the authenticity of the confession document.
Pakistan’s The News reported earlier this week that “A Pakistani lawyer C M Farooque claimed that many people, including Ajmal Kasab, were arrested before 2006 from Kathmandu by the Indian agencies with the help of Nepalese forces.” Farooque said he was contacted by Kasab’s parents and had filed a petition with the Nepalese Supreme Court with regard to the disappeared individuals last February. “The people arrested in Nepal,” the report added, “had gone there on legal visa for business but Indian agencies were in the habit of capturing Pakistanis from Nepal and afterwards implicated them in the Mumbai-like incidents to malign Pakistan.”
Kasab is from the Punjab province of Pakistan. Rakesh Maria said last week that “He expressed his desire to write a letter to his parents. He wants to write the letter saying he was misled by the group.”
More questions about the death of Hemant Karkare were raised this week by Union Minority Affairs Minister A. R. Antulay, who also implied that he may have been deliberately targeted with the involvement of others. “Superficially speaking they [the terrorists] had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he was a victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something I do not know,” he told reporters.
“Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in the acts [of] terrorism during his investigations in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terror has always been the target.” He added that “There is more than what meets the eye” with regard to Karkare’s killing.
After coming under fire for his remarks, he responded by asking, “How come instead of going to Hotel Taj or Oberai or even the Nariman House, he went to such a place where there was nothing compared to what happened in the three places?” He asked, “Why all the three (Hemant Karakre, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte) went together. It is beyond my comprehension.”
He later defended his remarks further, asking, “Who had sent them to Cama Hospital? What were they told that made them leave for the same spot in the same vehicle?” He added, “I repeat what I had said. I had not said who had killed them but only questioned who had sent them there in that direction.”
Rajiv Pratap Rudy, spokesman for the BJP party called the remarks “obnoxious” and called for a “clarification from the Prime Minister” whether this was a private view or one held by his government. Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, “we do not accept the innuendo and the aspersions cast” by Antulay’s remarks. “This should be the end of the matter. The Congress does not agree with Antulay’s statement.”
Others were more inclined to take the remarks seriously. Union Minister Vilas Paswan noted that Antulay was from Maharashtra and suggested he must therefore have “more information”.
Vijay Salaskar, who, as previously noted, was killed along with Karkare, “had closely investigated the entrenched links between a prominent gutka [a betel-nut and tobacco based product] manufacturer and the Dawood gang,” The Times of India reported in an editorial piece. “He had unearthed a mass of evidence about the manufacturer’s visit to Dubai, where he met Hamid Antulay, a nephew of Dawood, and then went on a false Pakistani passport to Karachi where he met the don and his brother Anees. The purpose of the visit was to settle a business dispute with a rival.
“Salaskar found out that the manufacturer was Dawood’s partner in the gutka business, alongside a leading politician who dabbles in real estate development. Despite Salaskar’s best efforts, he was never allowed even to summon the manufacturer for questioning.”
The editorial continued, “The details of Dawood’s vast business transactions and the man fronting it are available with the Central government. But there is inaction. Is it any wonder the security agencies are deeply cynical about enforcing law and order and protecting the country? Is it any wonder the people are enraged?”
On December 6, Maharashtra’s former revenue minister Narayan Rane alleged in a press conference that the terrorists who had attacked Mumbai the week before received “logistical and financial” support from a number of politicians. According to the Press Trust of India, Rane also alleged that former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had links with a person connected with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim.”
Indians Arrested in Connection with Attacks
Two Indians were also arrested in connection with the recent Mumbai attacks. One of the men, Tauseef Rahman, reportedly bought SIM cards that were used by the terrorists, which were purchased in Calcutta according to a report from the Associated Press. The other, Mukhtar Ahmed, was an undercover operative of for a special counter-insurgency unit of the Calcutta police force.
Another Indian citizen, Faheem Ansari, was arrested in February and is now being questioned about his possible involvement. According to the AP, he was found “carrying hand-drawn sketches of hotels, the train terminal and other sites that were later attacked”. According to lead investigator Rakesh Maria, “Ansari was trained by Lashkar and sent to do reconnaissance.”
India’s top law enforcement official, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, apologized for failing to stop the attacks, saying “There have been lapses. I would be less than truthful if I said there had been no lapses.”
In fact, as previously reported by Foreign Policy Journal, Indian intelligence had numerous warnings of an imminent attack, both from its own sources and from the US. The warnings were specific, including that it would come from the sea. Mumbai, and even the Taj Mahal hotel, were identified as specific targets.
Additionally, Rakesh Maria said his investigation was looking into the possible involvement of Riyaz Bhatkal, the leader of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), in the attacks. “We are looking at various possibilities about who could have provided vital local support and intelligence. Bhatkal being a local person is known to have links with terror outfits.”
In October, Indian Express reported that Bhatkal and a terrorist named “Shahrukh” might be the same individual. “Sources said that since his name was linked to the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Bhatkal may have used the name Shahrukh to protect his identity,” the newspaper said. One official said, “For the 1993 blasts, he arranged money from Pakistan through hawala channels. But he could not be arrested.” In addition, “Officials also suspect an underworld link to the blasts. ‘Since Bhatkal’s name came up in the Mumbai blasts, it is evident that he is an important financial link for the underworld,’ said a source.”
Whitewash of the Attacks
Foreign Policy Journal previously reported on indications that the role of Dawood Ibrahim and his network of organized crime in the attacks in Mumbai last month is being downplayed by both Pakistan and the US and assessed that this was “possibly the result of a deal taking place behind the scenes between the governments of the US, Pakistan, and India, to have others involved in the Mumbai attacks turned over while quietly diverting attention from a man who some say could reveal embarrassing secrets about the CIA’s involvement in criminal enterprises.”
What’s clear now, as further developments have come to light, is that there are also elements within India, both in the criminal underworld and the government, that are perfectly willing to see the role in the Mumbai attacks of an even larger shadowy international criminal network whitewashed; a network with links to numerous moneyed interests, including trafficking in drugs and arms, and to numerous intelligence agencies, including the ISI, the CIA, and India’s own RAW.
While Dawood Ibrahim is officially a wanted man in the US and India, and is on Interpol's wanted list, the evidence emerging from last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai is yet another indication that what is commonly referred to as a “shadow government” or “deep state” extending well beyond national boundaries is really pulling the strings behind the scenes in countries around the world, while the public–such as the residents of Mumbai–and well-intentioned individuals within their democratically-elected governments are left paying the price, often in blood.
Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the "war on terrorism" and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.