Terror fund trail leads to Calcutta

Posted on December 13, 2010

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IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI

New Delhi, Dec. 11: Officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will travel to Calcutta next week to probe the suspected role of the Indian Mujahideen in the extortion calls made to four Calcutta businessmen in February this year.

The federal counter-terror agency believes that tracking the extortion calls may reveal the funding route of the Indian Mujahideen, blamed for a spate of strikes across India since 2008, including the recent Varanasi blast.

“The Indian Mujahideen has started regrouping after recent setbacks and is desperate to mobilise funds from different sources. The Calcutta probe is primarily aimed at unearthing the money trail,” a home ministry official said.

“For the past two years, the National Investigation Agency as well as the CBI, other central agencies and the Delhi police’s special cell have been trying to track the terror outfit’s funding route.”

In February, calls demanding Rs 20 crore to Rs 40 crore were made to the offices of two shoe companies in central Calcutta, the owner of a star hotel in south Calcutta and a Howrah businessman, threatening them with abduction unless they paid up.

Calcutta police believe the caller was an aide of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Aamir Reza Khan, who grew up in Beniapukur and has a strong network in the Bengal capital.

“This is why they chose businessmen in Calcutta,” a Calcutta police officer said. “We traced some of the calls to Dubai and Karachi but after that we could not make any progress in the case.”

On the police’s advice, the Bengal government recently sought help from the Centre. Union home minister P. Chidambaram handed the probe over to the National Investigation Agency last month.

The Calcutta police have identified the caller as Khurram Khaiyam, an aide of Aamir who heads the Asif Reza Khan Commando Force. Aamir was once an associate of Aftab Ansari and is an accused in the January 2002 attack on the American Center in Calcutta.

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