In what could be the biggest-ever exercise to track down terror funding, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered around 30 cases across India in the last three months against dreaded terrorists on charges of money laundering and waging war against the country. It has also frozen many bank accounts, and sealed properties allegedly acquired using terror funds.
In Delhi alone, 15 cases have been registered against terrorists such as Jagar Singh Hawara, Babbar Khalsa International activist accused in Delhi cinema hall blasts in 2005 and Lashkar-e-Tayebba operative Tarik Ahmed Dar, allegedly involved in the Delhi Diwali bombings in Sarojini Nagar in the same year.
The ED has tracked down the Germany-based source from which Hawara received Rs 19 lakh. Dar's account in Jammu and Kashmir Bank with a balance of Rs 5.5 lakh has also been sealed.
Other terrorists against whom the ED has registered cases include Mukhtar Ahmed Khan (arrested in Delhi with explosives in 2007), Imran Ahmad Kirmani and Ghulam Rasool Bafanda (both arrested for possessing RDX in Delhi in 2006).
“All these cases are based on FIRs and chargesheets filed by Delhi police, the CBI or other security agencies. Our major focus this year would be on terrorist-related financing,” a senior ED official said. “We'll be questioning those terrorists lodged in different jails and also sending Letter Rogatories (LRs) to the countries from which the funds came.”
Last year, the government had amended the Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA), giving the ED powers to freeze funds associated with terrorist outfits.
“The chances of conviction of the terrorists are maximum under the PLMA as the burden of proof is on the accused. Moreover statements recorded before the ED under the money laundering act are admissible in courts, which is not the case with statements to the police,” the official said.
The Financial Action Task Force, an Inter-governmental body, promoting policies to combat terrorist financing, is closely monitoring the effort.