D-company makes news — and this one seems straight out of a spy thriller from the cold war era.
An alliance between a former KGB officer-turned-arms smuggler and one of Dawood Ibrahim’s top lieutenants has given Indian sleuths a vital clue to link Mumbai’s organised crime with international terrorism.
The missing link is Abdul Qayyum Shaikh – the Azamgarh-born arms baron — who was like a “brother” to Anis Ibrahim, Dawood’s brother. Shaikh was the man, who “apparently” gave actor Sanjay Dutt a 9 mm pistol and according to the police, the “prime recruiter” for the 1993 serial blasts. His Russian mafia connection is Victor Anatoliyevich Bout — one of the world’s biggest “illegal” arms suppliers. Bout, a major in the erstwhile Russian secret service — the KGB — armed rebels in Africa, Chechnya and supplied weapons to Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Interpol has issued a ‘red corner’ notice for the low-key but high-tech Shaikh, who is believed to be in central Asia, where, he serves as a node for D-company’s money-laundering and arms procurement.
Shaikh is believed to be funding the Chechen rebels these days. India, however, suspects that he spends considerable time in Pakistan. Deals between Shaikh and Bout were unearthed as early as 1997. Bout’s Belgium-based Transavia Export Cargo company was under European scanner forcing him to relocate to Sharjah and Ajman in UAE where he bumped into Shaikh, who had just taken over from Abu Salem. “Shaikh was interested in gun-running,” a source said and “the alliance with Bout opened up new vistas for him.”
Shaikh floated a rice-trading company, Star Inc, and transported most of his consignments through Bout’s “re-christened” Transavia Aviation Network (comprising 60 aircraft). Shaikh had also arranged Bout’s Afghan arms shipments.