Fugitive don and terror-attack accused Dawood Ibrahim continues to elude Indian authorities mainly because he and his vast network of men and resources are treated as assets in influential sections of Pakistani establishment and are given unprecedented protection, said sources in the Indian intelligence network.
"His network in India makes him the man with the best espionage network for Pakistan," sources said, ranking Dawood's use to Pakistan higher than that of India-hater and 26/11 attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
The situation may not change till India manages to exert international pressure to have his bank accounts and assets frozen under international laws, as the United States had attempted to do about 10 years ago, sources added. Dawood was declared 'specially designated global terrorist' by the US in 2003.
"Indian authorities know where he is but he continues to give them the slip because he enjoys tremendous protection by Pakistani agencies," said B Raman, strategic affairs expert and former head of the Research & Analysis Wing's counter-terrorism cell.
"The agencies are trying. There's no such thing as a lost cause in counter-terrorism. People should recall that Carlos, The Jackal, was caught 19 years after the hunt for him started," Raman added.
Rajan's five bids
In Pakistan, a complex security system has been protecting Dawood. His arch rival in the Indian crime syndicate, Chhota Rajan, had been after his life for many years. Not only Rajan, but also Indian intelligence and investigating agencies failed to track and trace Dawood despite his travel outside Pakistan.
"Chhota Rajan tried seven times from the late 1990s to early 2000 to kill Dawood in Karachi, but failed," said an intelligence agency official. He added that Rajan had sent his aides Vicky Malhotra and Bunty Pandey to Karachi masquerading as textile businessmen or dealers in fruits to kill Dawood.
Extra-secure protection cover provided by the ISI, Pakistan Military Intelligence (PMI), Pakistan police and the don's own guards have protected Dawood since he shifted to Karachi, said intelligence agency sources. Former Pakistan intelligence and security professionals now also work for him, sources added.
The official said that in his Karachi hideout Dawood is protected in five layers. The outside layer is handled by the Pakistan police while the second layer is taken care of by the PMI. "The third layer security is manned by ISI, while the remaining two are handled by Dawood's trusted bodyguards," the official said. All these men are armed with sophisticated weapons.
When Dawood moves around in Pakistan, his convoy comprises 10 to 15 bullet proof SUVs. "All these vehicles are of the same make and colour," the official said. He added the position of Dawood's vehicle is shifted every few minutes or half-an-hour.
The official said that despite travelling outside Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the don remains elusive because of the discreet travel planning and surrounding of 12 to 15 members from PMI and ISI all the time.