The man arrested on the Kenya-Tanzanian border last week and mistaken to be Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) chief Sayed Abdul Karim alias Tunda, was confirmed to be a British national by the Nairobi Interpol office, the CBI said on Monday. The Nairobi Interpol had sent the communiqué to their Indian counterparts the very next day.
This was the reason the Indian government refrained from acting on media reports that said Tunda, wanted in connection with at least 30 terrorist acts in the country, had been arrested.
Speaking for the first time following the controversy over the July 20 arrest, NR Wasan, joint director (policy), CBI, told Hindustan Times on Monday that he had communicated to their Interpol counterpart in Kenya “within half an hour” after the reports of the arrest were received.
“We were told by our Kenyan counterparts that the man arrested was not Tunda, but a British national of ‘Nigerian extraction’,” Wasan said, without elaborating on what it meant precisely. Wasan is with the Interpol wing of the CBI.
The communication with the Kenyan authorities had been made over the Interpol’s dedicated line (I-24x7), the quickest communication device recently installed at 179 (of 184) Interpol member countries. Any member country seeking information about any wanted fugitive can contact the Interpol headquarters at Lyon on this line, which in turn would convey the message to the target country. The feed back is always immediate.
Then why was there a delay in the communication, which resulted in the confusion? Wasan clarified that though the Indian authorities had established immediate contact with the Interpol in Kenya, it was because of the time zone difference that the message reached there only the next day. “They got back to us immediately after receiving the message,” Wasan added.
He, however, refrained from commenting on reports that the man arrested by the Kenyan authorities was handed over to the US authorities. “Once we were cleared that the person was not Tunda, there was no need to dig the matter any further,” Wasan added.
Tunda is believed to be one of the founder members of the LeT, which is involved in scores of terrorist attacks in India. According to intelligence agencies, he operates from his bases in Pakistan and Bangladesh and had masterminding major attacks for the terror group across the globe.