Atif alias Bashir -described by police as the chief of Indian Mujahideen (IM) -- received money from abroad to carry out terror strikes. The 24-year-old, who was shot in Friday's encounter, is said to have got the money in two instalments from a contact in a 'Gulf country'.
Although the police did not divulge the name of the country, they said the money was sent through Western Union, a money transfer agency. One of the instalments reportedly amounted to Rs 50,000. "The money for Atif's terror activities came from a non-hawala source; we have specific inputs about the man who funnelled the money from abroad," said Joint Commissioner of Police Karnal Singh, who heads Delhi Police's Special Cell.
Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources say the money could have come from Saudi Arabia. In the past also, they point out, funds for terrorist activities have come from that country. For instance, Rizwan Daware, an LeT/SIMI operative had allegedly transferred Rs 24 lakh from Riyadh to fund the Mumbai train blasts of July 2006.
The police say Atif's 'aides,' including Saqib Nissar, who was arrested on Sunday, confirmed he had been flush with funds of late. "The men we have arrested said during interrogation they had seen Atif counting wads of notes in Indian currency, probably worth Rs 50,000," said H.G.S. Dhaliwal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (south district).
Atif allegedly required the money for the logistics behind the serial blasts. The expenditure included buying and transporting explosive materials, renting safe houses and buying train tickets, among other things.
Terrorists prefer transfer
Investigators say terror groups in India and Pakistan rely on money transfer agencies, as their transactions are safe and quick.
A senior IB officer cites the example of Sabahuddin Ahmed, the 24-year-old suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative, who allegedly planned the attack on Bangalore's Indian Institute of Science in 2005. Ahmed is said to have received funds via Western Union from his Pakistan-based handlers on two occasions.