D-Company has challenged Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde to track down and extradite Dawood Ibrahim. Shinde on Wednesday disclosed in his hometown Solapur that he was in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and has provided Dawood’s location to the agency. He said the government has sought the FBI’s help in extraditing India’s most-wanted criminal. Shinde, however, did not disclose Dawood’s location.
Chhota Shakeel, the chief lieutenant of Dawood, told dna: “Let him (Shinde) try his best. I will only tell him Lage Raho Munnabhai.” Shakeel himself is believed to be based in Pakistan, but away from his boss, who is suspected to be hiding in the Swat Valley which is under the Taliban’s control. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is believed to be taking extra precautions to keep Dawood’s location a top secret.
The ISI has learnt a bitter lesson from the CIA’s brilliant operation in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, when US Navy Seals killed top terrorist leader of the al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.
This time around, however, the ISI is not willing to take any chances and has thrown a foolproof security blanket around Dawood — a highly-prized intelligence asset for the Pakistani spy agency which is controlled by the army. The civilian government has hardly any effective control over the ISI. But, apart from the backing of the ISI, Dawood enjoys the patronage of a powerful leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) led by prime minister Nawaz Sharif. In fact, Dawood had even celebrated his 58th birthday on December 27 in the company of his close friends at a safe house.
Sources in the Indian security establishment wondered if the FBI would help India extradite Dawood given the current downturn in Indo-US relations. “The withdrawal of security from outside the US embassy in New Delhi has hugely angered the American state department. The embassy has now been rendered more vulnerable to a terror attack.
Given this scenario, there is no way Washington would extend any cooperation to New Delhi,’’ a senior intelligence official said.
Former senior official of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) V Balachandran expressed surprise that Shinde talked about taking the FBI’s assistance. “The FBI is not a world policeman. It would have to take the help of the Interpol, which in turn, will have to seek the assistance of the government of whichever country where Dawood is believed to be hiding.” he told dna.
Balachandran noted that the US has a doctrine according to which it can enter any country to protect the interests of its citizens or to defend its strategic interest. Even though the state department has declared Dawood a global terrorist and has ordered the freezing of his assets in the US, the don does not directly pose any threat to the US. In fact, there have been reports of the CIA having used Dawood in the past for certain sensitive operations in Pakistan. “In any case, the US is not going to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for India,” a senior police official said.
Indian intelligence agencies had on three occasions planned to target Dawood in Pakistan. But each time, the political dispensation had refused permission for the operation. In fact, the army had even prepared a plan to neutralise Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed inside Pakistan. But the army was also refused permission.
Balachandran said: “The question is not whether we have the capability to carry out a surprise attack on Dawood. It is whether the government is prepared to face the consequences. Pakistan failed to retaliate against the US after the operation in Abbottabad because it dare not take on the Americans. But it will not keep quiet if India carried out any operation within its borders.”