Updated: May 21, 2015 10:59:12 am
Newly released documents recovered from Osama bin Laden’s safehouse in Abbottabad show the al-Qaeda leader received multiple payments from an individual he identified as “the Indian brother in Medinah”.
The documents, released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the United States, provide the most detailed public glimpse so far of the inner workings of al-Qaeda.
The first receipt credited to the unidentified “Indian brother in Medinah” dates to May 2008 for Pakistani Rs 292,400. The “Indian brother” paid another Rs 335,000 in July, 2009 — Rs 5,000 of which, bin Laden recorded, was given as a tip to the messenger.
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The documents also show bin Laden funnelled cash from a web of financiers like the “Indian brother” to elements of the jihadist movement in Pakistan, some also linked to the ISI.
The diary contains dozens of references to donations by sympathisers, some identified as “pious sisters”, who had sold their gold to pay for jihad.
In an April 5, 2011 letter, bin Laden was told by his lieutenants that “there are lots of expenses that we paid for in rupees directly in support of several jihadi groups in the tribes”.
The organisations listed include the Haqqani network — it has been described by former United States military chief Mike Mullen as “a veritable arm of the ISI” — along with the central committee of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and jihadists allied to slain warlord Hakimullah Mehsud.
“We do not have many debts,” the letter states, “Praise be to God”. “We also bought weapons, ammunition, and equipment in preparation for any possible war.”
The letter also contains a reference to correspondence between the al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leader Tayyeb Agha, now the jihadist group’s key Doha-based negotiator in talks brokered by the United States and Pakistan.
No Indian national had earlier been named as an al-Qaeda financier. Saudi national Mahmoud Muhammad Bahaziq, born to an Indian mother, was named as a terror financier by the United Nations in 2005 for his links to al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Bahaziq is believed to have been arrested by Saudi Arabia in 2006 on charges of terror financing. There has been no public word, however, on the status of his trial or current whereabouts.
Indian investigators first learned of Bahaziq’s activities in 2000 during an investigation into the activities of Mohammad Azam Ghauri, one of the co-founders of post-1993 jihadist operations in India. Hyderabad resident Ghauri, who was killed by police, is thought to have received funds from Bahaziq in Mumbai.
Later, in August, 2001, the Hyderabad police learned that Bahaziq had funded Abdul Aziz who was arrested while attempting to set up jihadist cells in the city. According to police records, Aziz, an electrician, met Bahaziq while working in Saudi Arabia. Aziz served in Bosnia in 1994, and fought alongside Chechen Islamists in 1996.
The United States treasury department, which also sanctioned Bahaziq, has said he is “credited with being the main financier of the LeT and its activities in the 1980s and 1990s.” He “coordinated LeT’s fundraising activities with Saudi non-governmental organisations and Saudi businessmen.”
Indian intelligence services also say Oman national Abdul Rahman al-Hooti, born to an Indian mother, financed Lashkar-e-Toiba and al-Qaeda operations out of the Persian Gulf sultanate. Al-Hooti was named as a terror financier in the ongoing trial of alleged Kerala jihadist Sarfaraz Nawaz.
He is also alleged to have financed the networks of Lashkar operatives Ali Assham and Faisal Haroun, the 2006 landing of assault rifles intended to have been used in a terror attack in Gujarat, as well as an abortive 2007 effort to land eight Lashkar fidayeen off Mumbai.
Al-Hooti was sentenced to life imprisonment by Oman after being found guilty of a plot to target prominent landmarks in Muscat, among them a BBC office, the Golden Tulip Hotel, and a spa in the upmarket Nizwa area.
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