THE DELHI Police landed a big catch: underworld don and extortionist Fazl-ur Rehman. The man behind the abduction of several businessmen in the past decade, he has over 100 cases against him.
Rehman alias Fazlu alias Ching Chong was arrested on Sunday from Sonouli, Uttar Pradesh, near the Nepal border.
Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul said, for long, Fazlu was virtually running an empire from Dubai where he fled to with a fake passport in 1999. "Fazlu controlled the entire network of hawala, kidnapping and extortion in Dubai after criminal Irfan Goga was killed, Abu Salem shifted base to Bahrain and then South Africa, and Dawood Ibrahim moved to Pakistan," said an intelligence official.
A police officer said Fazlu had set up a transnational network and had some of the best sharpshooters working for him. "Just the mention of his name had businessmen pay crores of rupees as protection money," he said. Among the string of abductions was that of Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, in 1998. The ransom: $1.5 million.
Fazlu also reportedly intervened on behalf of actor Shilpa Shetty and threatened the owner of Praful Sarees when he refused to pay her Rs 2 crore for an advertisement campaign.
But now the intelligence agencies are trying to figure out if the kidnap kingpin used his network to fund terrorist organisations.
The Delhi Police had informed the intelligence agencies that during their initial interrogation, they were unable to trace the funds he had generated -- Rs 100 crore -- over the past nine years.
Fazlu had hawala operations spread across Hong Kong (where Adani's ransom was allegedly paid), Malaysia, Singapore and the UAE.
But where has the money gone?
It is suspected that Fazlu funded some modules of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba in Dubai and organised finances for terrorist groups in Pakistan and India. "There is some information that apart from funding terror groups, Fazlu also provided the services of his hawala channels to transfer funds for terrorist groups," the official said.