A Jaipur court on Tuesday sent alleged Islamic State (IS) financier Mohammad Iqbal, 32, in four-day police custody. Iqbal was arrested from Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border on February 4. Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Chief Umesh Mishra claimed that Iqbal has confessed to sending money to Islamic State through China.
“How he used to send it is a part of the investigation. He had a hawala network and was also involved with gold and currency smuggling rackets in various countries, including India, Myanmar and Bangladesh,’’ he said. “He was a frequent flyer.’’
Iqbal had allegedly used Western Union to transfer money as well. Mishra claimed that the IS’s ideology had influenced Iqbal through social media and that he had contacted them on his own in 2014. He added that Iqbal was interested to be a part of IS with his family at one point.
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But it is unclear if he shared his plans with his wife and two children or if they knew about his activities. ATS Inspector General Biju George Joseph claimed that Iqbal was in touch with Islamic State fighters Abu Saad al-Sudani, who was killed in Syrian airstrikes in April last year, and Abu Usamah Somali. He said that Iqbal had tried to enter Turkey by obtaining Schengen visa but could not succeed.
ATS officials claimed that Iqbal had expressed his interest to send money to IS. But Sudani purportedly asked him not to do so directly but to send it through Jameel Ahmed, who was arrested from Sikar in November last year. The agencies came to know about Iqbal after Ahmed’s arrest and have since been trying to locate him. Ahmed did not know much about Iqbal beyond his social media presence.
“Iqbal could not be identified for quite some time. When Ahmed was caught, he had revealed that he came in contact with an Indian. But he, too, did know the real name of this person, who went by names of ‘Travel Haq’ and ‘Travel to Haq’ on social media, including Kik,” Mishra said. Ahmed never met Iqbal or knew his name. But Iqbal had transferred money to him for the IS cause.
Mishra added that they overcame language hurdle and highly technical” nature of investigation with the help of Tamil Nadu Police and central agencies to nab Iqbal. The ATS said that Iqbal was smuggling gold from Myanmar and had entered the Northeast by road from where he took a flight to Kolkata and then to Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
He was on his way to Chennai when he was arrested along with 20 gold bricks weighing 3.5 kg. Officials said that Iqbal is well-educated and lived in a posh colony. He had a mobile business before taking up smuggling.