How a tip-off from UAE helped track down Tunda on Nepal border

FrontTunda was visiting mosques and madrasas in the UAE, trying to motivate Indian Muslim youth from lower income backgrounds to join jihadi groups. (AP)

The arrest of top Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda was an elaborate intelligence operation that started in the United Arab Emirates, where he had been spotted six months ago, and ended on the India-Nepal border.

Related: Tunda, from a carpenter to top Lashkar terrorist

In fact, Tunda's arrest was only possible because of the UAE's help, sources said. He was allegedly visiting mosques and madrasas in the UAE, trying to motivate Indian Muslim youth from lower income backgrounds to join jihadi groups.

Related: Abdul Karim Tunda assaulted in Patiala House Court complex

While Indian intelligence did not have his exact whereabouts, sources said it was the UAE which traced and mounted surveillance on him. India, incidentally, had raised Tunda's case with Abu Dhabi on earlier occasions but had failed to make any headway.

Related: Candy seller tricks led Tunda to become a bomb expert

The UAE's biggest complication was always Pakistan because most of India's wanted terrorists, including Tunda, had turned Pakistani citizens with new identities, valid passports and a national identification number. So even if the UAE were to honour the Interpol alert and pick up Tunda, Pakistani authorities would immediately challenge the detention on the ground that the person was their citizen and had been wrongly detained.

Related: Tunda's fascination with explosives began at the age of 12

This happened in the case of Syed Zabiuddin Ansari and India had to eventually send DNA samples to prove his identity. Tunda's case was no different as he went by the name Abdul Quddus and held a legitimate Pakistani passport. Pakistan would have immediately challenged his detention and the UAE wanted to avoid this.

Tunda was watched for about six months but never picked up. It was clear, meanwhile, to Indian intelligence officials from conversations with their counterparts in Dubai that the UAE would not act on Tunda on their soil but would do enough to not lose track of him.

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