ED to question jailed Dubai-based businessman to probe 26/11 funding

New Delhi, Sep 21 : The Enforcement Directorate is planning to question Dubai-based hawala operator, Naval Kishore Kapoor, who is currently lodged in Tihar Central jail here, to find details of funding which emerged out of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

A senior ED official, privy to the probe, told IANS requesting anonymity that the agency had obtained permission from the special NIA court in Delhi to question the hawala operator on November 11.

Kapoor was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on July 16 this year.

According to probe officials, the NIA is looking into the funding aspects of the Mumbai attacks in which the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, is involved.

In all, 164 people had died in the terror attack carried out by militants who came from Pakistan.

According to the ED official, the grilling of Kapoor was required as the NIA probe had revealed a lease agreement signed in 2014 between him and Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali who was arrested by the counter-terror probe agency on August 17, 2017.

The ED official said that the questioning of Kapoor is likely to "unearth the 26/11 attack financial funding trail to Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, including Saeed."

Saeed has been named as the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks.

His name also figures in the NIA's terror funding case which aimed at stoking unrest in the Kashmir valley.

The NIA had registered a case on May 30 against separatist and secessionist leaders, including unknown members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations -- Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)in Pakistan and Dukhtaran-e-Millat in Kashmir.

Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front of the banned terrorist organisation LeT, has been named in the FIR as an accused.

On January 18, Watali was charge-sheeted by the NIA along with Saeed, Syed Salahuddin -- head of Hizbul Mujahideen -- seven Kashmiri separatist leaders and others in the terror-funding case in the Valley.

They were charge under stringent anti-terror laws for hatching a conspiracy to wage a war against India.

Last year, the ED had registered a case under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on an FIR filed by the NIA.

The ED official said that Kapoor had entered into an agreement with Trison Farms and Constructions through its Managing Director Watali to take land in Budgam, Kashmir, on lease and had remitted a total amount of Rs 5.58 crore in 22 instalments between 2013 and 2016 to Watali.

The official said that according to the NIA chargesheet, the land did not exist in the name of the company and the agreement lacked legal sanctity.

"As it proves that the said agreement was used as a cover created by Watali to bring foreign remittance from unknown sources to India, we need to grill him," the official said.

The ED official also said that the NIA had evidence showing Watali's proximity with the Pakistani establishment.

"On the basis of documents seized from Watali by the NIA, which discloses a list of ISI officials and a letter addressed to Pakistan High Commissioner recommending grant of visa to him," the ED official said.

In the chargesheet, the NIA had produced documents which apparently showed that Watali had received funds from the Pakistani establishment and terror organisations, which were later transferred to Kashmiri secessionists.

"Watali was bringing money from offshore locations to India by layering it through scores of firms and companies," the ED official said.

The NIA chargesheet also describes Watali as one of the conduits dealing with Hawala transactions.

Watali also has been associated with the LoC trade and has worked as the president of the LoC Traders' Association in the past.

On July 24, 2017, the NIA had arrested Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah, allegedly for being linked to the funding case.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.

Shahid-ul-Islam is an aide of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Khandey is the spokesperson for the Geelani-led Hurriyat.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)



Source: IANS