India’s case for seeking the extradition of LeT chief Hafeez Saeed from Pakistan has been further cemented with arrested terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda saying he was trained at the outfit’s Muzaffarabad-based Chelabandi camp in 1996 and sent to Kunar camp in Afghanistan a year before at Saeed’s behest.
The training was conducted by 26/11 main accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and former Pakistan army special forces commando-turned -jihadi Abdul Qadir.
The Lashkar bombmaker’s preliminary interrogation report reads like a who's who of global terrorism. His contacts include India-born Saudi terror financier Mahmood Bahaziq, Lashkar commanders Zafar Iqbal and Abdur Rehman Makki, Arif Qasmani Memon, accused by the US of engineering the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast, 7/11 Mumbai train blast accused Azam Cheema and of course, Saeed and Lakhvi.
Saeed, Bahaziq, Iqbal, Makki and Qasmani are all on a UN list of individuals with al-Qaeda links who are subject to sanctions, and carry multi-million dollar bounties.
READ: Dawood in Karachi under ISI protection, says Tunda
Qasmani, according to Tunda, is the man who set up the LeT’s maritime capabilities and owns big vessels like the one used in 26/11. He now works for Qaeda. The group’s naval wing is now headed by Doctor Daud.
Tunda has told interrogators he delivered 27kg of RDX to three Pakistani operatives to carry out blasts at Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar and New Delhi railway station in 1996. The same RDX was also used for blasts in Ludhiana (1996), Rohtak (1997), Delhi’s Ghanta Ghar, Subzi Mandi and Amba Cinema and on the Golden Temple Mail (1997).
The Old Delhi-born Tunda — arrested by the Delhi Police near the Nepal border on Friday — was a cloth trader and homeopathic medicine representative before he turned to jihad, inflamed by communal violence in Maharashtra in 1985 and helped along by Ahle Hadis ideologues Azam Ghauri and Dr Jalees Ansari. The trio was responsible for the 1993 serial train blasts in Mumbai and several other cities to mark the first anniversary of the Babri Majid demolition.
READ: Police to use voice samples to nail Tunda
After Jalees’ arrest in January 1994, Tunda fled to Bangladesh. With a Bangladeshi passport, he travelled to Saudi Arabia and got in touch with Makki and Iqbal, who were there on a fundraising mission. In July-August 1994, Tunda moved to Pakistan and with the help of Saeed and Iqbal, got accommodation in Muridke.
Bahaziq, Lakhvi and Saeed — who first met Tunda in 1991 in Lahore — paid Rs. 3 lakh to get Tunda and his family settled in Pakistan. In 1996, Tunda was employed by LeT at a salary of Rs. 4,000, with free ration, and sent for terror training.
READ: Tunda says Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi calls the shots in LeT
At the Chelabandi camp, he met Cheema, Abdul Qadir and Abu Dujana who taught him how to make improvised explosive devices. In 1996-98, Tunda targeted India through a series of blasts. He has given the names of accomplices in Bareilly and Aligarh.
Declared a proclaimed offender in the 1996-98 serial blasts, Tunda was back on India’s radar after Indian agencies arrested LeT’s UAE chief coordinator Abdul Razaak Masood in 2006. Masood disclosed that he had met Tunda in Lahore in 2003. This was substantiated by Sheikh Khaja, picked up by Indian agencies in Colombo in 2010.
Tunda left the LeT in 2004 after a fight with Lakhvi over funds. Soon after, he was detained by the ISI for six months. While Tunda has admitted that he was handled by Ali aka Qasim of the ISI’s Karachi set-up, he also confirmed that India is the main target of Pakistani agencies through terror and fake currency.