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Authorities in Bengaluru are renewing efforts to secure custody of an Indian doctor detained in Saudi Arabia for his alleged involvement in a 2012 plot to recruit people for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Efforts to deport Dr Sabeel Ahmed have resumed after he was named in a recent Delhi Police Special Cell chargesheet for alleged involvement in another recruitment plot — for the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
Sabeel Ahmed, 33, was deported to India from the UK in 2007 after his brother Kafeel Ahmed, an aeronautics engineer, carried out a suicide attack at the Glasgow airport. Sabeel had then been accused of failing to disclose his brother’s plans. He is reported to have moved to Saudi Arabia sometime around 2010 and was working at the King Fahd hospital when he was detained.
According to Alkarama, a human rights organisation in West Asia, Sabeel was “arrested by 20 plain-clothed intelligence officers” on February 9, 2016. By the time Alkarama reported his detention, on May 19 this year, Sabeel had a non-bailable warrant against him, issued by a Bengaluru court for the 2012 LeT plot. The NIA had used the warrant to seek an Interpol notice for the doctor’s arrest in Saudi Arabia.
Even as the deportation process was under way, a fast-track court in Delhi, on the basis of a plea by Delhi Police’s Special Cell, issued a proclamation notice seeking the presence of Sabeel and 11 others for allegedly being part of a plot to establish AQIS in India. As a result, he was named in a Special Cell chargesheet. “All efforts are on to bring Dr Sabeel Ahmed to stand trial in India for the cases against him,” a source said.
Although Sabeel had been linked to the 2012 LeT plot for long, his role was allegedly confirmed last year, when the NIA interrograted another suspect in the case, Asadullah Khan, 52, who was deported from Saudi Arabia in December 2015. Khan, who had been detained for nearly nine months, alleged that Sabeel Ahmed was a part of conspiracy meetings in Saudi Arabia.
Sabeel’s name then allegedly cropped up in the AQIS recruitment plot in statements given to the Delhi Police Special Cell by Abdul Rehman Khan, 38, from Cuttack in Odisha. Abdul Rehman was arrested in December 2015 for allegedly being a central figure along with alleged local AQIS-India chief Mohammed Asif, 41, to recruit Indian youth.
According to statements to police by Abdul Rehman, he met Sabeel in Bengaluru in 2009, when the doctor was living in the city after being deported from the UK, and in Saudi Arabia in October 2012. Sabeel allegedly sought his services to indoctrinate Indian youth into jihad.
Sabeel has, however, in the past denied any links to the 2012 plot. “I am given to understand that the allegation against me is that I have been part of some meetings in Riyadh and Dammam, where these plots were hatched. I categorically deny having attended them,” Sabeel had stated in a communiqué from Saudi Arabia in 2013. “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 knowledge of what is done with the money.”