The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing last year’s blasts at Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna, suspects that money generated from a robbery at the Bhopal branch of a finance company* in 2010 was used in the terror operation.
According to investigators, SIMI ideologue Hyder Ali alias ‘Black Beauty’, who was arrested last month in connection with the October 27 blasts, has revealed that another SIMI operative Abu Faisal, who was linked to the robbery, had given him Rs 5 lakh.
Faisal had escaped from the Khandwa jail a few months ago but was nabbed later. It is alleged that he had led the gang of SIMI operatives which looted gold worth Rs 2.5 crore from the Bhopal office of the firm in August 2010. A year later, the Madhya Pradesh police had arrested nearly a dozen of them from Bhopal and Jabalpur, including Faisal.
Hyder has revealed that Faisal and the other SIMI operatives had collected a large sum of money by looting banks and had deposited the money with him.
The investigators also suspect that Raipur SIMI ideologue Umer Siddhqui, who oversaw the Patna operation, was part of this collection chain. Umer was arrested by Chhattisgarh police last year. It was Umer who had given Hyder the task of carrying out an attack on Modi’s rallies. The group conducted recee at various places and finally decided to carry out the blasts at Patna, said officials.
Investigations revealed that soon after escaping from Khandwa jail on October 1 last year, Faisal through a SIMI contact met Hyder and told him that he needed the money deposited with him. The Patna blasts took place nearly two weeks after this meeting. “Hyder claimed that he gave Rs 2 lakh to him but did not discuss the plans to attack Modi’s rally. We are still verifying these claims,” said a senior NIA official.
Explaining the use of crime proceeds for terror, a counter-terrorism official said, “At the start, the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was against the use of crime proceeds, referred as ‘Maal-e-Ganimat’, for jehad but when they started feeling the heat from agencies, they had no other option. Both IM and SIMI have been engaged in using stolen properties or looted money for waging war.”
Investigators of NIA, which took over the Patna blasts probe in November, said they were still trying to verify how the timers, explosives and gelatin rods were purchased but they suspect the money used to finance the operations were proceeds of crime.
Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Modi, the NIA arrested four persons, including Hyder, and revealed that the Patna blasts was the handiwork of SIMI and not IM, as suspected earlier. Sources in the agency, however, said several top IM operatives were acting as common contacts between IM and SIMI, and at times provided logistical support.
*An earlier version of the story erroneously said the gold was stolen from Muthoot Finance. The error is regretted.