Hawala trail led police to ‘terror’ module

FP

Alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Sayyed Feroze gave himself and his colleagues away when he used the services of a hawala operator from Pune to procure Rs 3 lakh after the August 1 serial blasts in that city, sources close to the investigation said.

The hawala operator was on the radar of intelligence agencies, and he squealed on Feroze. Investigators soon got on the trail of all members of the module, and tracked them through several cities for over two months.

"The first tip-off came from the local (Pune) hawala operator through whom one of the men was identified. This happened in August. This suspect was tracked to Bangalore, where he was hiding. The other two, Asad and Imran, were tracked in Delhi. They went to Roorkie from here last month," a source said.

Sources said the three men, and especially Asad and Feroze, took care not to speak to their alleged handlers — Lashkar-e-Toiba operative Fayyaz Ahmed Kagzi and the Bhatkal brothers who founded the IM — by phone, sticking instead to email and smartphone chat.

"Each one of them had 5-10 email IDs. No computer was recovered from them. They used either cyber cafes or smartphones to keep in touch with Kagzi and Riyaz Bhatkal. We have recovered a few SIMs," a police source said.

Investigators said Asad knew Lashkar's Kagzi from the time they spent together in Maharashtra. They allegedly went for religious meetings together, at which Asad was radicalised. Kagzi's last known operation in India was the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul, which he allegedly attempted with Zabiuddin Ansari, the Lashkar operative extradited by Saudi Arabia at the end of June, and who is believed to be among the handlers of the 26/11 assault team from the Lashkar control room in Karachi.

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