October 2017 News

Terror Funding Case: NIA Arrests Hizb Chief Syed Salahuddin's Son

24 October 2017
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: In a major swoop, NIA has arrested Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin's son Syed Shahid Yusuf, a J&K government employee, in a 2011 terror funding case. Yusuf was found to be in touch with Saudi Arabia-based Hizbul Mujahideen operative Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, who is also an accused in the case, and had received money to allegedly fuel and fund secessionist and terrorist activities in the Valley. The arrest of Shahid Yusuf, who works with the J&K agriculture department as village agriculture extension assistant and has a family home in Soibugh village, Budgam, comes barely a day after the Centre appointed a representative+ to initiate dialogue in J&K. This makes it clear that terror funding investigations undertaken by NIA will not be affected by the dialogue process. An indication to this effect was given yesterday by home minister Rajnath Singh when he insisted that NIA was an autonomous agency that would continue to decide the course of its investigations. Sources said Yusuf had accepted money transferred via Western Union by Aijaz, who is on the run. The NIA has got documents confirming the funds transfers both from Saudi Arabia as well as India. Money allegedly meant to fund Hizbul Mujahideen's terrorist activities in J&K was reportedly sent in four instalments to Yusuf in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The NIA also has call records confirming multiple conversations between Aijaz and Yusuf, allegedly pertaining to the money transfers. 'We have all the documents on money transfers as well as call details. It is on the basis of this irrefutable evidence that we have gone ahead with Yusuf's arrest,' said a senior NIA officer. Yusuf was arrested soon after he reached the NIA office on Tuesday in response to summons sent by the agency asking him to appear for questioning. He had appeared for an initial round of questioning by NIA a few days ago. The 2011 terror funding case, which had been lying dormant following the arrest of four accused in 2011 against whom NIA has filed a chargesheet, pertains to alleged terror funding through hawala channels by terrorists based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to the state of J&K, via conduits based in Delhi. While the four accused - Ghulam Mohd Bhat, Mohd Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmad Dagga - are currently lodged in Tihar Jail, two others named Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Aijaz Bhat are on the run. Maqbool is an active trained member of the Hizbul Mujahideen and is accused of having supplied, in connivance with Aijaz Bhat and others, terror funds raised in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to terrorist gangs, terrorist organisations, separatists and others to wage war and support unlawful activities in J&K. Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, originally from Srinagar, had illegally crossed over to Pakistan in 1990 and underwent training with Hizbul Mujahideen there. He later stayed at a house in Sialkot before shifting to Saudi Arabia. He was in touch with the arrested accused Ghulam Ahmed Bhat in 2011, as per phone records unearthed by NIA. The NIA probe also revealed that Aijaz and Maqbool Pandit sent funds through hawala channels for the promotion of Hizb terrorist activities in the state. The funds were sent from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to Mohammad Sidiq Ganai. Ganai received these funds through his Delhi-based conduits Raj Kumar and Rajeev, who in turn received them from international hawala operators, and delivered them for further distribution to terrorist organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Taiba. The funds were received on behalf of these outfits by Ghulam Mohd Bhat through Ghulam Liloo and Farooq Dagga following the standard modus operandi of using mobile phones subscribed in other names and use of coded language in phone conversations.