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- Saturday, January 18, 2014 - From Print Edition


SANTO DOMINGO: The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is gearing up to help India track down Dawood Ibrahim on the basis of the “valid legal charges” which are pending against him and had already made the International Police (Interpol) to issue a “Special Interpol Notice” for him.The Interpol, whose mission is to prevent and combat international crime, is headquartered in Lyons, France. Currently, on the most wanted list of the Interpol for his involvement in organised crime and counterfeiting and ranking No. 4 on the Forbes list of the World’s 10 most dreaded criminals, Dawood had been declared a specially designated global terrorist by the US State Department way back in 2003 due to his alleged al-Qaeda links. Much to Islamabad’s embarrassment, the US Treasury Department, amongst its reasons for naming Dawood in the list of the world’s worst terrorists, had cited intelligence reports of his connection with al- Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). According to well-informed US intelligence circles, the “Special Interpol Notice” against Dawood Ibrahim is effective in 186 member countries, including Pakistan. It is separate from the “Red Corner Notice” which was issued by the Interpol in October 2003 on the request of the Indian Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI). During the Interpol’s 74th General Assembly session at Geneva on September 24, 2005, it was decided to issue the Special Interpol Notice for Dawood to support the UN Security Council in the fight against terrorism. The issuance of the notices or arrest warrants by the world’s most powerful policing agency - the Interpol - is obviously expected to create some serious problems for Dawood. The debate about the possible whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim and who will arrest him has again come to life in the wake of a recent statement by Indian Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, saying, “As per our information, Dawood is in Pakistan and we are making joint efforts with the US to nab him. When I went to the United States last year to discuss inland security, I had a meeting with the Attorney General who looks after the FBI. I talked to him and we decided that we will pass whatever information we have on Dawood Ibrahim to each other while making joint efforts to arrest him,” said the Indian Union Home Minister when asked about the whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar who is wanted in several cases of terrorism by India including the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts which killed over 260 people. The minister said so while addressing a press conference in New Delhi on January 10, 2014. However, the Indian Home Minister’s claim about Dawood’s presence in Pakistan was strongly rejected by Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam saying that it was just an allegation. “We have repeatedly told India that he is not in Pakistan,” she said. Asked if the US had pursued the matter with Pakistan, Tasnim said on January 11 in Islamabad that there was no information from the United States on this issue. In the past too senior Pakistan government functionaries have denied that Dawood lives in Pakistan. According to the US intelligence sources, the Indian authorities had sought intelligence sharing from the FBI in Dawood case through the office of the legal attaché (or Legat) of the FBI in New Delhi. Subsequently, an 11-member FBI team had traveled to Delhi to discuss the D-company network with the Indian authorities. Since then, the FBI, which has Legat offices around the globe, including New Delhi and Islamabad, is exchanging intelligence information with the Indian authorities in a bid to track him down. The FBI Legat offices are housed in the US embassies. Once the Legat office is approached by any country, the liaison officer there starts coordinating between the host nation and the American law enforcement agencies to collect information about the wanted accused. According to the modus operandi, the country which wants to seek the help of the FBI’s Legat office in any particular country against a wanted fugitive first approaches the Interpol to ensure that a Red Corner Alert Notice is issued. In the second stage, the FBI gets involved and acts on the Interpol notice accordingly. But the FBI does not proceed against a wanted fugitive on its own unless he or she has also committed a crime on the American soil. In the past ten years since he was named a specially designated global terrorist, not much has been heard about Dawood Ibrahim within the US. His emergence on the US radar has been a gradual, almost tentative process. Notwithstanding his designation, Dawood is not considered a particularly high value target. He is one of India’s most wanted terrorist-cum-underworld dons who runs a vast illegal business empire, known as ‘D-Company’, and allegedly operates from Pakistan. He is one of the most intriguing figures in the world of international terrorism, a billionaire gangster and a criminal mastermind linked to everyone — from al-Qaeda to Bollywood starlets to the East African drug cartels. From Mumbai to Dubai to Kuala Lumpur to Karachi, the stories associated with Dawood and his war with his underworld rivals can beat the best Bollywood thrillers. It is the nature of the crimes attributed to Dawood that place him at the top of India’s most wanted wish list. Dawood figures prominently in a list of 20 fugitives that India wants Pakistan to hand over for fomenting cross-border terrorism in India. He was convicted in the March 12, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts when 12 car-bombs killed almost 250 innocent people and injured over a thousand more. Until the 9/11 terror attacks, the 1993 Mumbai serial bombing was the single most destructive terrorist act committed in modern history. These serial bombings were believed to be carried out in revenge for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in the 1992 anti-Muslim riots after the demolition of Babri Mosque which had been blamed on Shiv Sena. Dawood subsequently abandoned India and, according to the Indian authorities, he is hiding in Pakistan, a charge that Islamabad continues to deny vigorously. On March 21, 2013, the Indian Supreme Court pronounced that “the management and conspiracy of the 1993 Mumbai blasts was done by Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and it was executed with the help of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency”. In a ruling which was quite damaging for Pakistan, the Indian court declared: “Dawood Ibrahim and other absconding accused were archers and rest of the accused including Tiger Ibrahim, were arrows in their hands. The accused were provided green channel facility in Pakistan. They entered Pakistan from Dubai and the Pakistani intelligence agency took them out of Islamabad airport without observing any immigration rules. A large number of the convicted and absconding persons in the 1993 bombings case had received training in making RDX and using automatic weapons like AK 56 rifle and hand grenades in Pakistan. The training materialized in the unfortunate serial blasts in Bombay, India on 12th March 1993”. However, the Pakistani Foreign Office had vocally rejected the Indian Supreme Court’s judgment, with the Foreign Office spokesman categorically rejecting any insinuations pointing to the involvement of Pakistan or any of its intelligence agencies in any such activity.