Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 24. After Saudi Arabia started cooperating in nabbing terror suspects, Indian agencies now have a better understanding of how Indian youths settled abroad are being used to wage a war against their own country. Despite being involved in such activities, these youths continue to do their normal jobs to avoid suspicion.
Persons such as Fasih Mahmood, who was deported to India by Saudi Arabia recently, can prove to be a bigger threat than persons like Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, say the authorities who have assessed the situation. Jundal was deported to India in June. He is one of the handlers of the November 2008 Mumbai attackers.
Indian agencies had a tough time tracking Fasih as his way of functioning was very different from that adopted by Jundal.
Saudi Arabia, acting on India’s request, has deported three suspects, Jundal, Fasih Mehmood and A Rayees, in the past five months.
As such youths stay in Saudi Arabia on legal work permits, which makes their early detection difficult. These work permits are generally meant for genuine employment. The trick used by the Indian Mujahideen is to obtain a work permit for any youth only after he has been indoctrinated.
Two clear categories have emerged among such migrants. People like Abu Jundal fall in the first category. They are the persons doing petty jobs. Jundal was an electrician by profession but he did not put his professional skills to use while staying in Saudi Arabia. He remained dependent on funding from his handlers. He used emails and phones to communicate and went about recruiting people.
This made the job of tracking him down a bit easier. He was seemingly under pressure to show “results” in lieu of the money he was getting. Jundal’s one-year expenses were paid by the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT).
It is the second category of operatives that cause real worries for the security agencies. They are well qualified youths like Fasih Mahmood, an engineer. “He had the capability to sustain himself financially. Hence, he remained under the scanner for almost nine years.” Fasih avoided emails and phones. He used human couriers to send messages to his accomplices in India. After his name started cropping up during interrogation of arrested IM operatives, agencies started tracking him.
Fasih worked as an engineer and visited India sparingly. It was wrong to say that Fasih used to come to India before each operation to personally handle the logistics, sources said. No link had emerged so far connecting him to the LeT, they added.
About the latest extraditions, sources say the Saudi largesse has come after an extradition treaty was signed between the two countries in 2010. Senior Indian functionaries smile away at questions as to “how the Saudis have been won over by India” and how was Pakistan’s monopoly broken in the one of the richest and most powerful countries.
One plausible reason is that India, along with China, is emerging as the biggest oil purchaser of Gulf oil while the US is slowly getting self-sufficient with new oil finds. Saudi Arabia now ranks as the fourth largest trading partner of India.
Moreover, Riyadh, like the US, looks at India to balance ties with Iran.