An Indian doctor, who was deported from the UK in 2007 after his elder brother carried out a suicide attack at Glasgow Airport, was arrested on Friday on arriving in New Delhi after his deportation from Saudi Arabia, where he was detained in connection with an alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recruitment plot registered in Bengaluru in 2012.
Dr Sabeel Ahmed, 38, was produced in a Delhi court and will be brought to Bengaluru on a transit warrant, an NIA source said.
When he was first linked to the LeT case in 2013, Sabeel had denied any knowledge of the conspiracy.
Fourteen of 17 people arrested (out of 25 accused) in the case have pleaded guilty and have been released after serving jail terms.
“A team from NIA’s Bengaluru camp office reached Delhi and arrested him yesterday. He has been produced in court and taken on transit remand,” the NIA source said on Saturday.
Sabeel is the younger brother of Indian-origin aeronautical engineer Kafeel Ahmed, involved in the June 29, 2007 suicide attack at Glasgow airport. Sabeel, then 25 and in London, was deported to India for failing to disclose prior knowledge of the attack planned by his brother.
In 2010, Sabeel moved to Saudi Arabia and was employed at King Fahad hospital. In 2015, the NIA named him as an accused in the alleged 2012 plot of the LeT to recruit youths in the country. A non-bailable warrant and a look-out notice was issued against him in the case.
In an initial chargesheet filed in 2015, Sabeel was identified only as “Motu doctor”, but the deportation and arrest from Saudi Arabia in December 2015 of Asadullah Khan, 57, a Hyderabad resident, helped NIA establish the identity of “Motu Doctor” as Dr Sabeel Ahmed from Bengaluru.
Sabeel is alleged to have introduced two key players in the alleged LeT recruitment plot of 2010-11 to each other — his brother-in-law Imran Ahmed, a dentist, and a Bengaluru engineer named Mohammed Shahid Faisal, alias Ustad. Imran was arrested in 2013 during a visit from Saudi Arabia on a fake passport and Ustad is reported absconding by NIA.
Linked in the case following Imran’s arrest, Sabeel had stated in a communiqué from Saudi Arabia: “I am given to understand that the allegation against me is that I have been part of some meetings in Riyadh and Dammam (in Saudi), where these plots were hatched. I categorically deny having attended any such meetings.”
“I am also given to understand that I am accused of financing and giving logistical support to the plot. It is ridiculous… I have never had any excess finances to distribute to people without having knowledge of what is done with the money,” he had stated.
In 2017, Ahmed was also named by Delhi Police’s Special Cell of being among a dozen missing Indians who were allegedly trying to establish the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
Sabeel will now face trial in connection with the LeT recruitment case — first registered by Bengaluru police as a plot to attack columnist Prathap Simha, now a BJP MP from Mysuru.
Intelligence agencies and police reportedly picked up the original trail of the alleged recruitment plot after two youths – Dr Zafar Iqbal Sholapur and Abdul Hakeem Jamadar – travelled to Pakistan via Iran in December 2011 to allegedly join the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were sent back by alleged ISI agents and monitoring of their activities after their return reportedly revealed they were in touch with LeT linked Indian terror fugitives based in Saudi Arabia.
On September 15, 2016, a special court in Bengaluru convicted 14 men arrested in the case to five years in prison after they pleaded guilty. Since they had already been in prison for nearly five years they were freed a few months after the conviction.
A separate chargesheet was filed by NIA against 11 people — the alleged Saudi-based recruiters of the youths — who were missing at the time of the initial trial, including Dr Ahmed. Among the people still at large in the case are Shaheed Faisal, alias Ustad, an engineer from Bengaluru, and an LeT veteran from Hyderabad named Farhatullah Ghori, who are also named in the 2016 AQIS recruitment plot by Delhi Police’s Special Cell.
In the AQIS case of Delhi Police, a fast-track court in Delhi issued a proclamation order against Sabeel Ahmed and the other missing men.
According to investigators, the doctor’s alleged links to the AQIS recruitment plot emerged from statements given to the police by a key accused in the case, Abdul Rehman Khan, 38, from Cuttack, Odisha, who was arrested in December 2015. Khan was allegedly at the centre of efforts by AQIS-India and its local chief – Mohammed Asif, 41, a resident of Deepa Sarai in Sambhal region of Uttar Pradesh – to recruit Indian youths on the directions of alleged AQIS chief Maulana Asim Umar.
According to Khan’s statements to the police, he had met Sabeel in Bengaluru in 2009, when the doctor was based in the city after being deported from the UK. Khan is alleged to have later met Ahmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012, where they allegedly discussed recruitment.
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