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Indian Mujahideen founders Yasin Bhatkal and Riyaz Bhatkal have links with Dawood Ibrahim

Sunday, 6 April 2014 - 6:10am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Yasin made this startling revelation before the Bangalore police's anti-terrorist cell and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Also, he told investigators that he collected hawala money, sent from Dubai or Sharjah by another IM member, Hafeef Bhatkali, during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.

After planting bombs in Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium on April 17, 2010 during the IPL match between Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians fled to Delhi, according to sources in the Bangalore police and NIA. He tried to carry out a terror attack there, too, but failed. He then fled to Pakistan via Nepal.

This was his second stint in Pakistan. His first was in 2005 when he underwent a 50-day terror training in the Balochistan area. During his second visit he stayed with the Bhatkal brothers — Riyaz and Iqbal.

Yasin, Riyaz and a few others met Dawood Ibrahim in the Balochistan area in 2011. And Bangalore police sources say Dawood discussed terror attacks in India with them.
Yasin said he did not talk much with Dawood; it was his leaders Riyaz and Mohsin Choudhary who did most of the talking.

Also, Yasis told investigators that he was in Mumbai during the 26/11 attack. "Hafeef Bhatkali, a computer engineer who was earlier based in Dubai, is now in Pakistan. Riyaz is in touch with him. Hafeef finances the IM," Yasin said. "At the time of 26/11, I was in Mumbai to collect Rs4 lakh in cash sent by Hafeef. The hawala delivery boy handed over the money to me near a mosque in Pydhonie."

Hafeef has close links with the D-company and runs hawala rackets in Mumbai and other places in the country. The police are trying to get more information on him and his possible links in Bhatkal, the coastal town of Karnataka. The Bhatkal brothers are from this town.

Considered to be the dreaded of all the IM members, Yasin was arrested by the NIA from the Indo-Nepal border in August 2013. Even though he had been involved with the IM ever since its inception in 2005, Yasin's name cropped for the first time during the German Bakery bomb blast in Pune in 2010. A CCTV footage showed Yasin entering the German Bakery with a bag and coming out without it. "It was after this that Yasin came on the radar of India's anti-terror agencies," a police officer said.

Even though always suspected, this is for the first time, that a link has been established between the IM and Dawood Ibrahim. Currently, IM founders Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal are believed to be holed in Pakistan and are being harboured by Pakistan's external intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Also, it is widely suspected that ISI funds the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that is involved in conducting terror activities in India with special focus on Kashmir. And ever since the Bhatkal brothers sought refuge in Pakistan, the ISI is funding the IM so that they conduct terror attacks in India. Yasin's reported confession that IM is using Dawood's hawala network for money flow is a revelation of sorts, because before this, it was believed that IM was not using any of D-company's network.

According to sources, it was possible that instead of starting their own network, IM operatives may have been instructed by ISI to use Dawood's hawala network. D-gang has a well-oiled hawala network in Mumbai and interrogations of Yasin have revealed that he received money through hawala in Mumbai on more than one occasion. A few days before the triple bomb blasts in Mumbai in July 2011, Yasin had received money through hawala in Mumbai to conduct the terror attacks.

Investigators have found out that all the money is routed into India from places in Dubai, Sharjah and Jeddah. While hawala route is used in Mumbai and Delhi, in remote areas of Bihar and Karnataka, money is laundered through the Western Union outlets. Based on interrogations and investigations done by Indian security agencies, the ISI (beginning in 2008) has so far given Rs26 crore to Riyaz Bhatkal. Yasin Bhatkal was given a minimum of Rs10 lakh for every terror that he masterminded.

After Yasin's arrest, several top IM operatives have been arrested by the police. This has dealt a severe blow to IM operations in India.

 


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