With Pakistan's premier intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) having cut all funding to Indian Mujahideen (IM), the terror outfit finds itself in a desperate situation with no money. The IM now plans to set up an extortion cell in the Middle East to generate funds for its terror activities and kidnap rich Indian businessmen to make quick money, according to Indian security agencies. Members of the outfit even plan to resort to robbery, looting and dacoity to address the cash crunch.
Investigations by Indian security agencies have revealed that IM co-founder Mirza Shadab Beg has planned to set up an extortion cell in Dubai called 'Maal-e-Ghanimat' (system for collection of funds from people) for jihad (religious or holy war). "Earlier, the IM was against the use of such kind of money for terror operations. However, with funds from Pakistan drying up, it has no option but to resort to such things," said a senior intelligence officer.
Arrested IM cadres in India said the idea behind setting up the extortion cell is to target rich people in the Gulf. In his statement to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), arrested IM operative Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi said he was in talks with Beg to identify a hawala operator in Dubai and Middle East so that the money generated from extortion could be routed to India.
Beg has been made in charge of the project to set up the extortion cell in Dubai and the point-person to collect the money. Sources said Beg and his associates have procured a few Dubai SIM cards which will be used for making extortion calls. "Of the total extortion money collected by IM, 50 per cent will be used for terror activities and the remaining will be set aside to be given to the al Qaeda," said another senior officer. "IM leaders are in talks with senior Qaeda and Taliban leaders because they want to sever ties with ISI."
To execute the kidnapping of rich Indian businessmen, IM operatives plan to acquire arms and look for hideouts where the abducted people can be kept. "The plan is unlikely to succeed as with the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal and several others, IM's India module has been busted. It does not have the manpower to execute such a plan," the officer said.
The NIA which was investigating the October 2013 Patna bomb blasts during PM Narendra Modi's rally stumbled upon another source of money generation for the IM's terror activities. "Robberies and bank dacoities were being carried out to generate funds," a police officer said.
The arrest of Hyder Ali alias 'Black Beauty' revealed that in August 2010, gold worth Rs2.5 crore was looted from the Bhopal branch of Muthoot Finance. Ali told the police that he got Rs5 lakh for the Patna blasts and that the money was from the Bhopal booty. "The money was given to Ali by Abu Faisal, who was part of the gang which committed the Bhopal robbery," the officer said. Ali said Faisal and other operatives had collected huge sums of money by looting banks and kept the money with him.
According to the police, from 2008 till 2013, the ISI gave approximately Rs25 crore to IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. However, last year, after differences cropped up between ISI and IM, he stopped all monetary aid to the latter. "Bhatkal was not able to give any account of the money. Also, Bhatkal and IM's growing fascination for al Qaeda and Taliban made the ISI jittery which is why it stopped giving money to the IM," a source said.