It was a call to the Interactive Voice Response system of Emirates Airlines in Dubai about a flight booking, but it provided the National Investigation Agency with crucial evidence to nail a Pakistani national, Dubai-based Mohammad Kamran, as the head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s funding activities in India.
This is perhaps the first time an inquiry with an airline’s automated system is being used by the agency for such a purpose.
Two weeks ago, NIA filed a charge sheet naming Kamran, Delhi-based Mohammad Salman and Rajasthan-based Mohammad Salim, for conspiring to create logistics bases and sleeper cells for LeT’s financial arm, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation. The cells were sought to be created in Delhi and Haryana in the garb of religious work. Salman, who was receiving instructions and funds from Dubai, and Salim were arrested in September 2018.
HT has accessed the details of the charge sheet.
To establish that Kamran (who is currently absconding), in association with LeT chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks, and FIF’s deputy chief Shahid Mehmood were sending terror funds to India, NIA needed their voice samples to match with evidence collected during investigations. With its intelligence revealing that Kamran recently made an inquiry with Emirates Airlines in Dubai about a booking, NIA reached out to the airline’s local office, which provided a recording of the call.
The agency compared this with telephone intercepts of conversations featuring Kamran that it recovered in the form of a CD from the residence of Arif Ghulambashir Dharampuria, an associate of Kamran, in Valsad, Gujarat, in January. The CD contained the voices of Kamran and Mehmood. Mehmood’s voice sample was also taken from a video on YouTube, an interview with a TV channel in Pakistan.
According to NIA, forensic experts confirmed that Kamran’s voice on the CD and the Emirates IVR recording matched. Similarly, Mehmood’s voice on the CD and YouTube video also matched.
Referring to a particular conversation between Kamran and Mehmood, the NIA charge sheet says, “The voice samples prove that Kamran is having conversations with Shahid Mehmood in respect of funds transfers and movement to an African country in connection with some religious work as per the CD recovered from the house of Dharampuria”. Dharampuria and Abdul Aziz Behlim are two Indians who work closely with Kamran in Dubai.
According to the agency’s charge sheet, Salman, a resident of Nizamuddin, received Rs 57.22 lakh from Kamran through hawala channels. He used these funds to ostensibly construct a mosque – Khulafa-e-Rashideen — in Palwal’s Uttawar village and for marriages of Muslim girls.
However, according to NIA, Salman was indoctrinated to carry out “some special work” once the construction of the mosque was completed.
FIF, registered as a charity in Pakistan, has been blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council but it continues to raise funds for terror activities of LeT through bank accounts opened using pseudonyms. Its funding comes from madrasas, Pakistan government, its spy agency ISI, its army, businessmen and non-resident Pakistanis.
FIF presents itself as a relief and charitable organization that collects funds for natural disasters, but India and the international community have repeatedly opposed its activities. It is used by LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa for anti-India terror activities.