A key element in the interrogation of Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal has been to figure out the shadowy figures who actively finance Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) operations. And it has once again brought back the focus on a 68-year-old Indian-born Saudi Arabia national, Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq.
Abu Jundal, who was arrested with the help of Saudi Arabian authorities, is also being questioned about the role of Asad Khan alias Abu Sufiyan, Siddique Bin Osman alias Rafeeq alias Abu Hanzala, and Farhatullah Ghori alias Abu Sufiyan, who reside in Saudi Arabia, and are key LeT operatives who provide shelter to wanted terrorists, and also play an important role in financing the terrorist outfit.
It has been learnt that apart from funding the LeT, Bahaziq also plays a key role in providing a safe haven to wanted terrorists who on many occasions use Saudi Arabia as a transit point.
The charge sheet filed in the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack lists Bahaziq as a senior financier of the LeT, and names him as a prominent figure in the terrorist organization, along with Haji Mohammed Ashraf — the chief of LeT’s finances.
Born in Hyderabad, Bahaziq went on to procure a passport of Saudi Arabia, and has been actively financing the LeT since the 1980s. How he got Saudi nationality is still a mystery, said police sources. The Indian-born Saudi national has been key to the LeT’s establishment and activities, and was a popular visitor to the Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s, the parent body of the LeT, centre in Muridke in Pakistan.
Police sources added that Bahaziq had created many fictitious charitable trusts, but after UN sanctions were imposed on these trusts, Bahaziq now channels the finances through various bank accounts under fictitious names, said police sources.
Bahaziq’s name first surfaced when police officials launched a hunt for Mohammed Azam Ghauri, LeT’s India operations commander, who was gunned down in April 2000 in Andhra Pradesh, and his partner Abdul Karim Tunda.
His role was further confirmed when Mohammed Ishtiaq alias Saleem Junaid, a Pakistani LeT operative, was arrested in Hyderabad in 1998. Bahaziq had met Ishtiaq in Mumbai and helped him with finances, said police sources.
Also, there has been information of Bahaziq having approached fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and had asked him to fund the outfit.