A suspected terror financier and senior IM operative slipped out of India’s hands when the UAE, under pressure from Pakistan, freed Abdul Wahid Siddibappa as New Delhi was slow in sending the extradition request, sources have said.
Wahid, 32, is a suspect in 2006 Mumbai train blasts in which 209 people were killed. He is also a cousin of jailed top Indian Mujahideen member Yasin Bhatkal.
He is also believed to be a brother-in-law of the home-grown terror outfit’s founder Riyaz Bhatkal, who now operates from Pakistani port city of Karachi.
“Islamabad was trying to show that Wahid is a Pak national to stop his extradition to India,” a counter-terror source told HT on condition of anonymity.
Wahid was released from a prison in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, in May. He could be in Pakistan now, the source said.
India, too, was lax in sending an extradition request, the official said. “For many days, documents for his extradition request remained pending in the ministry of external affairs in May when the campaigning for the general election had reached a crescendo.”
“By the time, the extradition request reached the UAE, the authorities there, who were already under tremendous pressure from Pakistan, released him,” the source said.
Wahid was arrested in Abu Dhabi in January. But unlike the authorities in Sharjah who in May deported IM suspect Faizan Azmi to India, the officials in Abu Dhabi decided to arrest Wahid, setting in motion a long legal process of extradition.
Wahid, it is suspected, use to route money through hawala channels to his associates in India to finance IM’s terrorist activities. His role in 2010 Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts in Bangalore during an IPL match is also being looked into.
“After being released from Abu Dhabi jail, his whereabouts are not known. We suspect that he may also have reached Pakistan by now,” the official said.
Earlier, too, Pakistan had created hurdles in India laying hands on terror suspects. At the time of deportation of Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the alleged handlers of 26/11 Mumbai attackers, from Saudi Arabia, Islamabad had questioned his nationality.
New Delhi, however, moved swiftly and presented the Saudi authorities with DNA evidence that the terrorist was indeed an Indian national.
He was sent to India in June 2012.