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Hunt for Qaeda link's moll

CBI and IB launch a hunt for jailed don Aftab Ansari's girlfriend Swati Paul after the recent arrest of HuJI area commander, reports Bhupendra Pandey.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2007 02:01 IST
Bhupendra Pandey
Bhupendra Pandey
Hindustan Times

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) have launched a hunt for jailed don Aftab Ansari's girlfriend Swati Paul after the recent arrest of HuJI area commander Jalaluddin alias Babu Khan in Lucknow.

Ansari is a native of Lalpur and the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Kolkata's Khadim Shoes owner Partha Roy Burman. He was also the brain behind the attack on the American Centre in Kolkata. Ansari was extradited from Dubai to India three years ago.

If the investigation leads are to be believed, Swati, an accused in the Burman kidnapping case, had played a vital role in transaction of money for various jehadi assignments in India. This included the attack on the Parliament on December 13, 2001.

Sources in the CBI, Delhi, said that Swati, a native of Kolkata and cabaret dancer with the Dubai Grand Hotel, had been in regular touch with Ansari and the latter's jehadi links. The agencies have recorded her conversations with Dawood and Chhota Shakeel.

The details revealed by Jalaluddin stated that Ansari had sent Swati and a Pakistan-based militant Idrees to India soon after Burman was kidnapped on July 25, 2001. Jalaluddin, who had executed the abduction, revealed that Burman was kept hostage in a secluded house on the Indo-Bangladesh border. He was released after a ransom of Rs 4 crore was paid.

The ransom was paid through hawala in Dubai. Swati and Idrees played an active role in taking the money to Ansari.

Jalaluddin's revelation and the findings by the investigative sleuths confirmed the links of Ansari, Swati and Mohammad Atta, the 33-year-old Egyptian who had received ($1,00,000 or Rs 47 lakh) through Rawalpindi-based Omar Sheikh — a member of the Al-Qaeda.

The Atta link was established after interception of a series of e-mails between India and Dubai in which the kidnappers had mentioned about the transfer of the money's part to Atta from Pakistan, for the 9/11 attack.

The man who remote-controlled the operation from Dubai was Aftab Ansari. He is facing eight criminal cases in Lucknow, Delhi and Kolkata.

Sources also said that Ansari, with the help of Swati, had picked up a Mumbai businessman and kept him hostage in Kathmandu for 55 days and released him on payment of Rs 22 crore. The gang targeted the rich in Patna, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Jamshedpur, Rajkot. The victims were released after paying hefty ransom. The details with CBI indicated that Ansari orchestrated the kidnappings from Dubai and Swati helped him in drawing about Rs 55 crore in ransom in 2001 alone.

First Published: Jun 26, 2007 21:33 IST