Don's new den: Small town in S Africa

Dawood Ibrahim alters fingerprints and camouflages iris to evade biometric identification, reports Nandini R Iyer.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2006 04:14 IST

India’s top fugitive — Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar — has undergone a makeover.

Posing as a “small-time” Pakistani businessman, he’s altered his appearance, currently spends a lot of time in South Africa and travels often to the former Soviet Union.

Sources say this information has come from a friendly nation’s intelligence service, which compiled details about the Don — designated a global terrorist by both the US Treasury department and the UN — over a period of time.

The details were recently passed to India, though unofficially.

In order to evade biometric identification, Dawood has reportedly undergone plastic surgery; he’s altered his fingerprints and camouflaged his iris, leaving Indian sleuths wondering how they’ll spot him.

Sources say that medically, though coloured contact lens could conceal the iris pattern, surgical alteration does take place, as is seen in patients operated upon for glaucoma. Not beyond Dawood’s resources.

An indirect confirmation of the change came in the fact that the Don’s movements have been undetected by Pakistan’s high-tech immigration system — which was set up using US technology and which is believed to be covertly accessed by the Americans.

Dawood, as an import-export businessman, spends about four months a year in a town outside Johannesburg, and travels commercially, with bodyguards, to Moscow, sources disclosed.

His movements don’t follow any one pattern, and he occasionally goes on from Moscow to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrghyzstan and destinations in western Russia, via chartered or commercial flights, or sometimes by road.

The Don is suspected to regularly meet Russian mercenary outfits that specialise in weapons and drugs smuggling. But, say Indian officials, “The coverage is sketchy”.

Dawood and his aides have stopped using the Internet and rely on disposable mobile phone connections sourced from various countries.

Sources say this is the fallout of the plot to assassinate him around the time of his daughter’s wedding to cricketer Javed Miandad’s son last year.

His visits to Pakistan are few, and restricted to ISI safe houses. Pakistan’s covert agency has been providing him a security cover: “Not because they want to protect him,” says an intelligence source, “but because they cannot risk his being caught or killed in Pakistan.” His visits to Dubai have also reduced.

First Published: Aug 20, 2006 03:08 IST