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Lashkar's Oman connection

June 01, 2009 17:29 IST
Ali Abdul Azeez, a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative arrested in Oman, is suspected of involvement in the 26/11 attacks.

Suspected of part financing Lashkar activities in India, Azeez, who has been sentenced to life by an Omani court for plotting terror strikes in Muscat, will be an important source of information for Indian investigators.

Azeez was in Mumbai a week before November 26, 2008. He left for Muscat just before the attacks took place. Before he was arrested by the Omani police he ran an automobile components store and Internet cafes.

His mother hailed from Maharashtra which is why he frequently visited India. During his visits, he heard accounts of atrocities against Muslims and this apparently led him to walk down the path of jihad.

He was introduced to Lashkar activists and later visited the terror camps in Pakistan. Thereafter, the Lashkar assigned him a key role in Oman.

Azeez's key aides are said to be Sarfaraz Nawaz and Mohammad Jaseem. Sarfaraz hails from Kerala and became a part of Lashkar's terror network when he was just 18. He was sent to Muscat, where he met Azeez.

Through Azeez, Sarfaraz sent $5,000 (about Rs 200,000) for the serial blasts that rocked the country last year. The money for the attacks, sources claim, was raised in Muscat and sent to a hawala operator in Kerala.

Mohammad Jaseem is believed to be the link between Azeez and Fahim Ansari, who is currently being tried for his role in the Mumbai attacks. Indian investigators are confident of establishing links between Ansari and Azeez through Jaseem.

Investigators claim Azeez kept in constant touch with Lashkar operatives in Pakistan before the Mumbai attacks.

Vicky Nanjappa