Ahead of the proposed peace talks between India and Pakistan, fresh revelations made to Indian security agencies
by a recently arrested aide of don-turned-terrorist Dawood Ibrahim strengthen fears about resuming a dialogue while Pakistan continues to shelter Indian terror suspects.
After 16 years on the run, a former small-time Mumbai smuggler called Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan (40) was arrested five days ago by a Mumbai police team, led by its chief Rakesh Maria. Khan, alias Hamza, revealed that Tiger Memon (49), the elusive plotter and executor of the 1993 serial bombings, which killed 257 people, is in Karachi, Pakistan.
This is the first time that Memon’s whereabouts have been established by Indian security agencies, who struggle to track several Indian terror suspects scattered across Pakistan and the Middle East, each capable of being used for a future terror strike.
Until now, security agencies suspected that Memon had transformed into a Dubai-based hotelier.
Khan told interrogators that like his mentor and protector, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Memon too works for the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and “regularly visits (terrorist training) camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK)”.
Khan was under police surveillance for three months before he was picked up on February 5.
In 2003, the US Treasury Department had designated Dawood, alias Shiekh Dawood Hassan, a “global terrorist” with a Pakistani passport and a Karachi address.
It is at this residence of Dawood, in the tony Clifton area of Karachi, where Khan claims to have met Memon on several occasions.
During interrogation, Khan — a commerce graduate who carried a reward of Rs 2 lakh — told authorities that the only time Memon leaves Karachi is when he visits terrorist training camps in PoK.
“He is telling us a lot about Memon and Dawood,” said one of Khan's interrogators, on conditions of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
On September 12, 2006, special Mumbai court convicted Memon’s younger brother Yakub Memon and sentenced him to death for his role in the serial blasts. Three others from his family were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Khan had escaped to Dubai two days after the March 12, 1993, serial bombings and had also managed to get an Indian passport under an assumed name in 2004 after his Nepali passport expired. Using the Indian passport, he regularly visited Mumbai, officials said.
When on the run, Khan traveled to Pakistan, Oman, Nepal and Dubai and had been dealing in motor spare parts while maintaining his contact with Dawood and other top members of the gang.
He is currently in custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which investigated the serial blasts.