Family of terror suspect believed he was working in Saudi for 12 years
Terror suspect Gulnawaz was based in Dubai and was allegedly involved in terror funding through hawala (illegal money transfer channels).Updated: Sep 25, 2020, 18:55 IST
The family members of the Saharanpur resident Mohammed Gulnawaz, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from a Kerala airport for his alleged terror links earlier this week, were under the impression that he had been working in Saudi Arabia for the past 12 years, said senior officials of Uttar Pradesh Anti Terror Squad (ATS) after verifying his details over the last two days.
However, as per the investigation, Gulnawaz was based in Dubai and was allegedly involved in terror funding through hawala (illegal money transfer channels). His name allegedly surfaced in connection with terror funding during an NIA investigation in 2016.
On the other hand, his family members said Gulnawaz had left the house at the age of 20 to work in Saudi Arabia in 2008 and did not return.
“His father, Qameel, was in a deep shock when informed about Gulnawaz’s arrest for terror links. For him, he (Gulnawaz) was the most hardworking among his three sons. His father stated that he only knew that Gulnawaz was away from the family to earn and give them a good lifestyle,” said an ATS official privy to the investigation.
The official said the family had no clear idea about the company which employed him in Saudi Arabia. He said Gulnawaz’s two brothers, Shahnawaz and Ahtesham, also worked in Saudi Arabia. While Shahnawaz returned home during the Covid-19 outbreak, Ahtesham was still in Saudi Arabia, he added.
“Our team reached the Saharanpur address of Gulnawaz which was shared by the NIA. His family, comprising five members, including his parents and a brother, were found living there. They were not aware of Gulnawaz’s involvement in any terror activities,” said UP ATS additional director general (ADG) of police Dhruv Kant Thakur.
“We are waiting for further inputs from the NIA and information extracted from Gulnawaz on the basis of which the investigation will proceed further.”
Earlier, Gulnawaz was arrested from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Tuesday for his alleged links with terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Qaeda. A senior UP ATS official said Gulnawaz was also suspected to be involved in serial blasts in Bengaluru on July 25, 2008, in which one person was killed and 20 others were seriously injured.
The official said two others were arrested and sent to jail in connection with those blasts while Gulnawaz managed to sneak out of the country. He said Gulnawaz’s name also surfaced in connection with terror funding through ‘hawala’ network in 2016. After that, the NIA had issued a lookout notice for him and was looking for him.
Gulnawaz’s arrival at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport was revealed by three alleged Al-Qaeda operatives held by the NIA after a raid on a migrant workers’ settlement in Kochi in the early hours of Saturday.