Inside Abdul Khwaja’s failed war against India

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Inside Abdul Khwaja’s failed war against India

Unsuccessful jihadist hoped for new career as fake currency racketeer​


Khwaja’s botched operations led his funds to dry up, forcing him to peddle forged Indian currency

He was expected to step into Shahid’s shoes, but he failed


HYDERABAD: Early in January, a swarthy young man handed over a spanking new Pakistani passport identifying him as Karachi resident Mohammad Farhan to an immigration officer at Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike airport.

Just a few taps on the keyboard later, though, the immigration officer knew the man Sri Lankan authorities had been watching out for had arrived. Hours later, Sheikh Abdul Khwaja was put on a special aircraft to Hyderabad.

Khwaja has long been identified in media accounts as among India’s most wanted: a key figure in the jihadist cells which have carried out a succession of urban bombings since 2005, and possibly linked to the Mumbai carnage of November 2008.

But investigators from India’s police and intelligence services have now begun to see a somewhat different picture of the convent-school educated Khwaja. He has emerged, highly placed sources in the investigation told The Hindu, as a jihadist whose record of botched operations led his funds to dry up — and forced him to begin a new career as a fake currency racketeer.

Into the Lashkar

Khwaja’s life as a jihadist began in early 2005, Andhra Pradesh police investigators say, when he fled India on a Haj visa to evade prosecution on charges of rioting and attempted murder.

In Saudi Arabia, Khwaja allegedly made contact with a childhood friend, the key Lashkar-e-Taiba linked jihadist Mohammad Abdul Shahid. Shahid left Hyderabad soon after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, as part of a wave of jihad volunteers, and emerged as the key Indian jihadist leader in Pakistan.

Shahid’s mentor, the Gujarat-origin Karachi-based ganglord Rasool Khan ‘Party’ — who draws his nickname from the local argot for businessmen — allegedly arranged for a ticket and a visa to get Khwaja to Karachi.

From Karachi, Khwaja was despatched to train with the Lashkar at camps in Lahore and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. His instructors included Muzammil Bhat, the still-fugitive military commander with charge of the operational execution of the Mumbai attack.

Khwaja was despatched to Bangladesh, police say, soon after his training ended. Another Hyderabad resident, Ghulam Yazdani, was using Dhaka as a base for a plot to bomb the headquarters of the counter-terrorist Special Task Force in Hyderabad. Bangladeshi Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami operative Sharif-ul-Haq had been tasked with raising a volunteer for the attack. Moutasim Billa, code-named Dalim, blew himself up at the STF’s office in October that year.

Back in Karachi, though, the jihad cell began suffering reverses. New cadre, in particular, were hard to come by. Early in 2006, Shahid’s Saudi Arabia-based brother, Mohammad Abdul Samad, sent two new volunteers from the Indian diaspora. One, Sheikh Najibullah Ali, had to be sent home after just eight days as his irate — and well connected — grandparents protested.

In July 2007, Khwaja is claimed to have told police, Shahid was asked to lie low by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate — perhaps in response to Indian and international pressure. Heated arguments followed. Samad arrived in Karachi at the end of August to discuss the issue. Both men were killed on their way back from fugitive Gujarat jihadist cleric Mufti Sufiyan Patangia’s Karachi home — an assassination widely attributed to India’s Research and Analysis Wing.

Meanwhile, in March 2006, Yazdani was shot dead by the Delhi police, disrupting the group’s Bangladesh operations. Raziuddin Nasir, one of the few new recruits raised by the cell, was arrested in Bangalore in January 2008. And, later that year, Bangladesh authorities detained Sharif-ul-Haq.

Khwaja was expected to step into Shahid’s shoes — but he failed spectacularly.

Last year, Khwaja attempted to stage a series of ambitious new operations, among them, a plan to bomb the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Kolkata offices during the Lok Sabha elections. Explosions were arranged, but Sharif-ul-Haq’s arrest made it impossible to execute the operation. A joint operation with the Jaish-e-Mohammad to target petrochemical facilities in Gujarat got no further than desultory searches on Google.

Khwaja’s failures led his financiers — among them, Saudi Arabia-based Indian Islamists Asad Khan, Farhatullah Ghauri and Siddiq bin-Osman — to cut him off. For its part, the Lashkar ended month subsidies to the cell.

Early in July last year, Khwaja left for Saudi Arabia, hoping to find a job. Yet again, his project failed. He returned to Karachi, and tied up with the ISI-linked Mafioso, Amanullah Paracha, for an operation to peddle forged Indian currency. The new enterprise brought him to Colombo — and on to a Hyderabad prison cell.

Continuing threat

Khwaja’s story, police say, makes clear that international pressure on jihadist groups, particularly in Bangladesh, has begun to tell on their operational capabilities. It also makes clear, though, that new plans are under way.

Iqbal Ismail Shahbandari and his brother Riyaz, the fugitive leaders of the Lashkar-linked Indian Mujahideen network, met Khwaja in Karachi early last year. The two men hoped to procure pistols for newly raised cadre through Bangaldesh. The project, like so many of Khwaja’s operations, failed.

Lashkar-linked Zabiuddin Ansari and Fayyaz Ahmad Kagazi — wanted for a series of operations targeting Gujarat and Maharashtra in 2006 — also met Khwaja in Pakistan, to discuss pooling resources.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/02/stories/2010030260291000.htm
 

ajtr

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Is Amjad Khwaja in below news article same Sheikh Abdul Khwaja in above article.
HuJI man spells out Gujarat terror plan

AHMEDABAD: The imposing Gaekwad haveli which houses the Ahmedabad crime branch, has always had a ring quite like the celluloid terror of Gabbar Singh in Sholay to it, because of the stories of illegal detentions, custodial torture and such stuff that abounded in the times of encounter specialist DG Vanzara.

Today, its incumbents shudder, because the fortress seems to have been compromised. Amjad Khwaja, a HuJI commander now in the custody of RAW, has said that he had done a recce of this haveli in 2005, looking for a target.

A team of crime branch officials, who returned after interrogating Khwaja with other agencies, said he had revealed a lot about the ISI’s terror plans for Gujarat. This explains the heightened security in the state for the past few days. Sources told TOI that Khwaja referred to a meeting of the ISI of January 12 where Vadodara Refinery, a power station and trains were named as specific targets.

The reason the police believes him is that after his arrest on January 18, he talked about a blast that was to happen in a big Indian city and soon after the German Bakery blast in Pune happened. Khwaja — who is associated with Maulana Naseeruddin, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal and Rasool Parti —said the ISI wanted to use goods wagons carrying inflammable stuff as bombs to cause maximum human casualty to passing passenger trains.

The Gaekwad haveli was further fortressed, after Khwaja, who belongs to Nalgonda, revealed that the HuJI wanted to avenge the killing of Mujahid. The boy was killed when a team led by deputy superintendent of police NK Amin went to arrest Maulana Naseeruddin in the Haren Pandya murder case in 2004 to Hyderabad, and opened fire killing the boy.

Khwaja was arrested from the airport on January 18 when travelling from Karachi to Colombo and is now in Kolkata for fake currency offences.
 

Singh

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^ yep they are the same person.
 

ajtr

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London arrest highlights India's communal war

NEW DELHI: For 17 years, police in half a dozen countries had hunted for Mohammad Hanif Umerji Patel, wanted in India for a 1993 bombing in Surat, which left 12 people injured and an eight-year-old girl dead.

Last month, authorities in the United Kingdom caught up with him in a neighbourhood grocer's shop in Bolton, 16 km from Manchester. Known to his friends as “Tiger Patel,” the fugitive will now face extradition proceedings. Seventeen men have so far been handed down sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment for their role in the bombing.

Despite his fearsome nickname, Patel was something of a bit player in a still-unfinished communal war: a war involving Hindu-chauvinist groups, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, and the organised crime networks which funded the birth of the modern jihadist movement in India.

In December 1992, Hindutva groups tore down the Babri Masjid. Hundreds died in the violence that followed — many at the hands of police who often sided with Hindutva groups.

In the midst of the rioting, a small group of Surat Muslims appealed to Ahmedabad ganglord Sheikh Abdul Latif for help. The former State Minister and Fisheries Board chairman Mohammad Surti, his son Farooq Surti, local Congress politician Iqbal Wadiwala, Husain Ghadiyali, Salim Chawal and Patel himself said they needed small arms to protect Surat's battered Muslims. Having started out as a small-time bootlegger and gangster, Latif rose to the ranks of the State's most powerful figures by ruthlessly eliminating his rivals and making his resources available to the local Congress party. In 1987, then in jail facing trial on murder charges, he won elections from five Ahmedabad municipal wards. Later, he became a key lieutenant of Mumbai-born, Karachi-based Mafioso Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar.

Latif, as it turned out, had just received a consignment of 57 Kalashnikov assault rifles, some 15,000 rounds of ammunition and several dozen grenades from Dawood Ibrahim, for just this purpose.

In February 1993, under intense pressure from both Pakistan's ISI and his clients in Mumbai's Muslim ghettos, the Karachi ganglord allowed his networks to stage reprisal attacks. From a confessional statement made by Dawood Ibrahim's lieutenant Usman Gani Merchant, we have some idea of what was discussed at the meeting where the decision was to be taken: “revenge was to be taken,” he recalled.

On March 12, 1993, Dawood Ibrahim's operatives set off 13 improvised explosive devices in Mumbai, killing more than 250 people — the largest terrorist attack in India's history, known as the Black Friday bombings. The explosives, grenades and assault rifles used in the revenge operation were provided by the ISI, which hoped to set off a communal war in India.

Fallout in Gujarat

Back in Ahmedabad, a Latif aide called Rasool Khan ‘Party', his nickname derived from a slang for businessman, handed Mohammad Surti and his associates relatively modest assets — two Kalashnikov assault rifles and 10 grenades. Patel was among the group which used the grenades to bomb Surat's railway station and a crowded marketplace. Latif's aides carried out eight similar grenade attacks in Ahmedabad, which claimed the lives of 10 people.

Investigators later raided Latif's safe houses in Ahmedabad's Dariapur area. The ganglord fled to Karachi after arranging for the dumping of his remaining cache of 30 assault rifles and grenades in Jharnea, Madhya Pradesh. The weapons were alleged — but never proved — to have been transported there by Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who was killed in a fake police encounter staged in 2005 by the Gujarat police.

In 1995, Latif returned to India after falling out with Dawood Ibrahim, and was killed in a controversial firefight. Meanwhile, Rasool Khan ‘Party' hid himself in Hyderabad, where he made contact with the controversial Islamist cleric Maulana Mohammad Naseeruddin. Following the murderous 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, Rasool Khan is alleged to have funded the travel of recruits raised by Naseeruddin to jihad training camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Maulana Naseeruddin is now serving time for his role in the assassination of the former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya — an operation carried out by the cleric's recruits to avenge the politician's role in organising the anti-Muslim violence. Rasool Khan and Ahmedabad cleric Maulana Patangia, who helped to raise several jihadists along with Naseeruddin, are also said to be in Pakistan.

For his part, Patel jumped bail and made his way to the United Kingdom. His associates, Surti's son Farooq Surti, Salim Lala and Farooq Gajnabi, are also believed to be fugitives overseas.
 

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