Strengthening bilateral counter-terror cooperation, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday deported Hyderabad-born Mohammed Assadullah Khan alias Abu Sufiyan to India on charges of terrorism, financing the proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and planning bomb attacks in Karnataka.
Sufiyan, on the CBI’s Interpol Red Corner notice and named in an NIA chargesheet in May 2013, was picked up by Saudi authorities last December on the basis of Intelligence Bureau inputs. His custody has been handed to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Sufiyan’s detention was first reported by HT on October 8 this year.
Top government sources said Sufiyan was a member of Islamic radical group Darsgah Jihad-o-Shahdat in the undivided Andhra Pradesh in the 1990s. He was close to Fasiuddin, a terrorist with deep links with Pakistan’s ISI and involved in bomb attacks and assassinations in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh in the 1990s. Fasiuddin was killed in a police encounter in July 1993.
Sufiyan also had close links with LeT terrorist Azam Ghori, a Warangal resident radicalised in Saudi Arabia and trained in guerilla warfare in Afghanistan. Ghori was involved in political assassinations, bomb attacks and recruiting youths on behalf of the LeT in Andhra Pradesh in the late 1990s. He founded the India Muslim Mohammedi Mujahideen to target RSS activists in Hyderabad.
Ghori was killed in a police encounter in April 2000. Apprehending police action, Sufiyan escaped to Riyadh in 2000 and joined the LeT’s Saudi cell with the motive to recruit, train and finance terrorist action in India, particularly Karnataka.
Counter-terror operatives said Sufiyan was involved in the 2002 Sai Baba Temple blast in Hyderabad, whose probe has now been transferred to the NIA.
The antecedents of three more terrorists of Indian nationality, including Indian Mujahideen financier Zainul Abideen, are being verified by Riyadh before their being sent to Delhi.
“Abu Sufiyan will be able to provide the counter-terror operatives glimpses of Lashkar’s anti-Indian activities in the Middle East as well as help join the dots in terror cases from 1990 to 2014. He will also give insight into the Lashkar leadership’s plans of using countries other than Pakistan to launch attacks in India,” a senior home ministry official said.