With its deep pockets, and its reported cooperation with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Al Qaeda terror networks, Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company presents a credible a threat to US interests in South Asia, according to a new US Congressional report.
The "D-Company, a 5,000-member criminal syndicate operating mostly in Pakistan, India, and the United Arab Emirates provides an example of the criminal-terrorism 'fusion' model," the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in a report on the organisation run by the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
"The US government contends that the D-Company has found common cause with Al Qaeda and shares its smuggling routes with that terrorist group," noted the report prepared by the research wing of the US Congress for lawmakers.
The United Nations has also added Dawood Ibrahim to its list of individuals associated with Al Qaeda, said the report on "International Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Security Threats, US Policy, and Considerations for Congress" released Tuesday.
"D-Company's seeming transformation from a profit-motivated criminal syndicated to a fusion crime-terror organization also altered its composition. Many of the Hindu members left the group after the 1993 bombings, with some forming a competing gang," the report said.
"While the organization reportedly collaborates with LeT and Al Qaeda, the more secular orientation of D-Company's leadership makes it unlikely that it will formally merge with those terrorist groups, analysts believe," it said.
"Regardless, D-Company's own terrorist endeavors, its deep pockets, and its reported cooperation with LeT and Al Qaeda, present a credible a threat to US interests in South Asia, security experts assess," CRS said.
Lending his criminal expertise and networks to such terrorist groups, he is capable of smuggling terrorists across national borders, trafficking in weapons and drugs, controlling extortion and protection rackets, and laundering ill-gotten proceeds, including through the abuse of traditional value transfer methods, like hawala, it said.
By providing those organizations with funding, contacts, and logistical support, it amplifies their capabilities and durability.
Noting that the D-Company is reportedly involved in several criminal activities, including extortion, smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and contract killing, the CRS said it has also reportedly infiltrated the Indian filmmaking industry, extorting producers, assassinating directors, distributing movies, and pirating films.
Dawood Ibrahim began as a criminal specialist in Mumbai, first as a low-level smuggler in the 1970s and later as the leader of a poly-crime syndicate, the report said noting, "He formed a thriving criminal enterprise throughout the 1980s and became radicalised in the 1990s, forging relationships with Islamists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Qaeda."
D-Company's evolution into a true criminal-terrorist group began in response to the destruction of the Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh in December 1992, CRS said.
In retaliation "reportedly with assistance from the Pakistan government's intelligence branch, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), D-Company launched a series of bombing attacks on March 12, 1993, killing 257 people," the report nored.
Following the attacks, Dawood Ibrahim moved his organization's headquarters to Karachi. There, D-Company is believed to have both deepened its strategic alliance with the ISI and developed links to LeT, which was designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organization in 2001, CRS said.
During this time period, some say D-Company began to finance LeT's activities, use its companies to lure recruits to LeT training camps, and give LeT operatives use of its smuggling routes and contacts," it said.
"Press accounts have reported that Dawood Ibrahim's network might have provided a boat to the 10 terrorists who killed 173 people in Mumbai in November 2008," CRS said.