Friday, March 5, 2010

Tiger Hanif can key to Dawood-LeT network

The British police made an extremely important arrest on Wednesday. Hanif alias Tiger alias Tiger Hanif, wanted in the 1993 Surat bombing case was picked by the British police on behalf of the Indian authorities at Bolton in north-western England.

India investigating and intelligence agencies say Tiger Hanif, who faces extradition to India, managed to give them the slip for 17 years, is riding on a whole load of information pertaining to the Dawood Ibrahim-Lashkar-e-Tayiba network.

An Interpol alert was sounded against Tiger Hanif three years back. The Gujarati-speaking Indian national was born on October 20, 1960. Prior to his disappearance, there were various cases against him, the main ones being related to terrorism. A warrant had been issued against him by the Gujarat police.

In 1993, Hanif along with three others had hurled a Russian-made grenade at the Gujarat Express at the Surat railway station killing one person and injured 38. Following the blasts, he took the usual route out of India and landed in Pakistan. From there he managed to escape to the United Kingdom where he remained undercover as a grocery store worker.

Intelligence Bureau sources told that before turning into a terrorist, Tiger was a member of the Dawood gang. His association with Dawood goes back to the days when the Karachi-based don was living in Mumbai. Tiger took care of the Gujarat operations of the Dawood gang. Gujarat has always been the most preferred route to smuggle drugs and ammunition from Pakistan and Tiger looked after that operation.

However in the 1990s, there was a change in the pattern in which the D-gang operated. They received an ultimatum from the Inter Services Intelligence that they would be allowed to smuggle drugs in and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan if they contributed to their terror projects against India. It was in 1993 that the D-Gang helped carried out the serial blasts in Mumbai which announced the gang's arrival into the terrorism network. The same year, Tiger and three others carried out the Surat bombing.

The IB says that Tiger like his boss Dawood made the transition from the underworld to hardcore terrorism. Ever since Tiger left India, he has been working for the D-gang and this means he has done work for the Lashkar too.

Tiger's extradition may shed light on the linkages between the D-gang and the Lashkar. He has a fair idea of the network since he has been in touch with some of the operatives based in India. Prima facie it does not appear that he had carried out any terror operations in the UK where he lived for so long. However, Indian agencies are also hoping that Hanif will help them bust the huge network that the D-Gang and the Lashkar have set up in Mumbai and Gujarat.

IB officials are also hoping for more information on Farook Surti and Gajnabi, who were with him during the Surat attack and are absconding till now. IB sources say Surti operates out of Dubai for the D-Gang and Gajnabi is a full-fledged operative of the Lashkar based out of Pakistan, primarily involved in transporting ammunition meant for terror activities in India.

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