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Ghauri's arrest could reveal Gulf's terror links, says IB

By Vicky Nanjappa
July 20, 2009 13:58 IST
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The arrest of Shakatullah Ghauri, an Imam who was arrested from the Hyderabad Airport could help police join the dots relating to several cases of terror in the country, especially the attack on the Akshardham temple at Gujarat. Ghauri, the brother of hardcore militant Farhatullah Ghauri is said to have played a major role in financing outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihadi.

Investigating officers in Hyderabad told that Ghauri could provide vital clues regarding the attack on the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat in which 30 persons were killed and several others injured. Officials also say that Ghauri was based out of Riyadh where he was working as an Imam. A non-bailable warrant under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) is pending against him in a Gujarat court and he could be taken there for further investigations.

According to sources in the Intelligence Bureau, Ghauri and his brother were instrumental in providing funds for the Lashkar- e-Tayiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami. Their prime focus was to sponsor terrorism in Gujarat and the LeT and the HuJI had specifically instructed the duo to raise funds for Gujarat operations alone. Both the brothers were among the 12 most wanted terrorists by the Gujarat police. The IB also says that the Ghauri used to raise funds from rich businessmen in the Gulf and then channelize it to Gujarat to fund acts of terror. For the Akshardham attack alone, he is said to have raised almost Rs 5 lakh through his sources in the Gulf.

Ghauri was initially recruited by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, who were looking for a key person in the Gulf to brain wash youth and also help with recruitment. However Ghauri gradually moved into the Lashkar which was planning on going global. He then got in touch with the LeT which immediately took him into their fold almost around 10 years ago. Ghauri helped the Lashkar with funding and also ensured that youth from the Gulf countries were indoctrinated with the Lashkar's world view.

During the planning stages of the Akshardham attack, Ghauri constantly shuttled between Pakistan and Riyadh. However after a red corner alert was sounded against this man and the Gujarat police began to hunt him, he settled down in Riyadh. Ghauri remained low key for a quite some time until the heat on him reduced. However after a few years he began actively participating in fund raising activities. The IB said that Ghauri used funds which were raised for relief victims through religious institutions and then channelized them into terror routes so that subversive activities could be carried out.

Ghauri has sent several men from the Gulf for training to Pakistan, who were in turn were used for operations in India. The IB says that the interrogation of this man would be key since he could provide vital clues regarding the operations of the Lashkar and other outfits in the Gulf countries. Cracking the Gulf code is essential for Indian security agencies as they suspect that the biggest threat for the country apart from Pakistan will be from the operatives settled in the Gulf.

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Vicky Nanjappa