Haroon Rashid Abdul Hamid Naik alias Sagri, 33, was arrested by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) with counterfeit currency from a Wadala guest house in August last year, but it was only after the arrest of Naquee Ahmed that his role as the key conduit of Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) funds for carrying out the July 13 blasts came to light, ATS officials said.
According to the ATS, Naik, an al-Qaeda trained operative who allegedly fought the US forces in Afghanistan, facilitated the flow of terror funds through his accomplices in Dubai and Delhi. “The financial trail was given a lot of emphasis, and all angles have been covered,” said additional director general of police and ATS chief Rakesh Maria on Monday.
The ATS has sought a transfer remand for Naik’s custodial interrogation after Ahmed revealed that mastermind Yasin Bhatkal had given him Rs1.5 lakh to facilitate the blasts. Naik, a Mumbra resident, has been lodged in Arthur Road jail. “Haroon is a crucial financial link because we have evidence that he was acting as the bridge between those who carried out the blasts and their handlers,” said ATS sources.
Hindustan Times was the first to report, on January 19, that investigators had identified the recipient of the terror money, laundered from a Lashkar-e-Taiba conduit in Dubai identified as Wali Aziz alias Rehan, to a hawala operator in Delhi.
The information came from Ahmed, who had helped the planters rent a house at Habib building in Byculla, ATS sources said. Waqqas and Tabrez, both residents of Darbhanga in Bihar, had given Rs1 lakh to landlady Rubina Qureshi as deposit for the flat. The hawala funds were handed over to Bhatkal in Delhi, who in turn gave it to Ahmed, the sources added.
Naik’s connections in Delhi date back to 2005, when he entered from Pakistan and started a business with the help of an acquaintance.
However, with him being on the radar of intelligence agencies since 1999, he could not stay for long.
A team of Delhi police’s special cell sniffed out his shop, but he was not present when it arrived there. Naik managed to escape to Dubai when he learnt about the raid.