THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday claimed to have arrested a key player in the Lashkar-e-Toiba financing network from Kerala after he arrived from a Gulf country. Sources said Gul Nawaz was an associate of Sheikh Abdul Nayeem, arrested for the first time in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul episode case.
Gul Nawaz was the last remaining absconding accused in the case, after the arrest of one Javed from Delhi last year and Odisha-based Habibur Rehman alias Habib on arrival in Delhi from Riyadh in 2018. Nayeem was arrested in 2017.
Nayeem was first arrested in 2007 for alleged role in the Aurangabad arms haul case and for reportedly trying to get two Pakistani nationals and one Kashmiri into India through Bangladesh. In 2014, he escaped custody by jumping off a train in Chhattisgarh while being taken to Mumbai from Kolkata for a court appearance.
Following this, NIA sources said, he was used by his Lashkar handlers to conduct reconnaissance across India for terror targets and to arrange finances for its activities. “A well-established conspiracy was hatched between the accused for targeting vulnerable locations in India with the intent of causing maximum damage,” an NIA statement said.
Nayeem is alleged to have links with Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008. Ansari is alleged to have taught Hindi to the 10 terrorists behind the attack as well as to Fayaz Kagzi, who blew himself up outside the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 4, 2016.
As part of reconnaissance to find terror targets, Nayeem is alleged to have taken on fake identities and visited states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. An NIA statement said Rehman had recruited Nayeem for the task based on the directions of “LeT commander Amjad @ Rehan who is based in Pakistan”.
The NIA has already chargesheeted Nayeem and Rehman along with nine others in the case it registered in 2017. In February 2018, the NIA had made a series of arrests in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh of suspected Lashkar operatives and hawala operators based on Nayeem’s interrogation, and seized currencies of various countries and weapons.
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