The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, October 6, 2002
Lead Article

End of the road for Salem?
Abu Salem
It cannot be ruled out that Abu Salem shifted base to Portugal at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). This is a serious matter as the USA and the UK treat Pakistan as “a very important ally” in the international coalition’s war against terrorism. Besides, if this were to prove correct in the times to come it could also mean that a section of the ISI is still hobnobbing with the Al Qaida, says Rajeev Sharma

THE saying, "When elephants fight, the grass is bound to get trampled," is apt in the case of the underworld. Post-September 11 developments have shown how the world has become a tougher place to live in not just for terrorists but for gangsters, criminals and underworld dons also. It is not merely Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida who are feeling the heat in the wake of the post-9/11 onslaught launched against terrorism. The comparatively smaller fries are also feeling the pressure. This is more so in the case of Muslim criminals because the border line between them and Islamic terrorists often gets blurred.

This is what happened with Abu Salem also. His steady ascension in the infamous D Company —as Dawood Ibrahim’s gang is known— did not bother international terror-busters. The March 12, 1993, the Bombay blasts and the unravelling of Abu Salem’s role in this carnage made him a household name, but only in India. The westerners were unaffected. His falling apart with Dawood and his eventual enmity with the don did not set the Atlantic Ocean on fire. His getting married to Bollywood moll Monica Bedi—a few films’ wonder—was inconsequential for the western sleuths. All these developments have been lapped up by the Indian media, which gave Abu Salem a larger-than-life image.


But there is something he did which caught the attention of the "international community", very often a euphemism for the United States of America.

What should bother the international community, a euphemism for the USA, is that Abu Salem was probably working on behalf of Al Qaida in Europe. There are reports that the Abu Salem had shifted base to Portugal because this European country has a very low crime rate and, therefore, its crime-detection apparatus is not vibrant at all. Besides, as a European country it is bound by law not to deport or extradite any of its citizen/resident in a criminal case to a country where the alleged criminal faces capital punishment or life sentence. Salem’s Portuguese lawyer has gone on record saying that even if the Government of India were to give an assurance to the Portugese authorities that Salem would be spared capital punishment or life sentence it would be bad in law as it would mean that the courts can be influenced by the Indian government.

There are reports that Abu Salem devised a novel way to get Portuguese residency permit. He married a Portuguese woman and got Monica Bedi married to a Portuguese man. Needless to say, the marriages were sham and large amounts of money exchanged hands for facilitating these marriages. While sources here are tight-lipped about these reports — obviously they do not want to take any chances after India’s failed attempt to get Abu Salem extradited from the UAE last year — it cannot be ruled out that Abu Salem shifting base to Portugal was at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). This is a serious matter as the USA and the UK treat Pakistan as "a very important ally" in the international coalition’s war against terrorism. Besides, if this were to prove correct in time to come it could also mean that a section of the ISI is still hobnobbing with the Al Qaida.

As the mainland security in America was being tightened after 9/11 and a great number of restrictions were being put on foreigners, especially those coming from Pakistan and the Arab world, Abu Salem decided to keep off US shores. So, he started selling his properties worth millions of dollars at throwaway prices. Meanwhile, Indian sleuths were keeping in touch with FBI officials.

Since 9/11, Abu Salem was one among hundreds of thousands who were to be subjected to random probe. His distress sale of his properties rang alarm bells for the FBI and he came under FBI scrutiny. He could have been arrested in the USA itself had the FBI been vehement about it. But probably they did not have enough evidence against him. Or probably they were aware of his growing links with the Al Qaida and they wanted to set up a trap for their quarry so that they could collect more information.

Abu Salem’s Al Qaida links have raised eyebrows here and none other than Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has said that there were reasons to believe that Abu Salem was working as a conduit for Osama bin Laden. The fact that he was eventually nabbed in Portugal is itself a wake-up call for the international coalition’s ongoing war against terrorism, particularly the bin Laden brand of terrorism. The intelligence community has reasons to believe that Portugal has already come up on the Al Qaida’s world map and an Al Qaida module may already be existing there. Such a thing will be made known if Lisbon were to agree to Abu Salem’s deportation.

Abu Salem owns a business establishment in the name of "Kings of Car Trading" in Dubai (telephone numbers 350240 and 350035). He owns a Mercedes car with registration number Dubai 4781. A case was registered against Salem in Dubai in the 1990s for which he was arrested and later set free on bail. He went to Pakistan in mid-1997 for making arrangements for the marriage of Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Humayun. Later, he went for Umrah with his family. Meanwhile, Dawood was able to persuade the Dubai authorities and the case was withdrawn. Salem returned to Dubai from Karachi in March, 1998.

Like Chhota Shakeel, Abu Salem was one of the most trusted lieutenants of Dawood before his split with the Don. The CBI’s case, among other things, is that during the Bombay blasts, Salem is supposed to have been the one who took weapons to Sanjay Dutthouse. Salem is a notorious hitman. His name figures in the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar. Vikram Vahi, alias Vicky, who was the one who actually pressed the trigger on the instructions of Salem, was himself killed by Salem in Nepal.

Abu Salem was in close contact with the late Mirza Dilshad Beg, MP of Nepal, and used to direct him on the telephone to carry out activities of the D company in Nepal. Salem owns two villas in Dubai, of which one is used as residence and the other as a guest house. He is also a prominent drug smuggler who featured in operations of Iqbal Mirchi , having a lucrative network in the CIS and European countries. Ostensibly, he dealt with second-hand imported cars in partnership with Anees Ibrahim, brother of Dawood, in Dubai and recruited hitmen from slums and from amongst poor Muslims and used them in extortion rackets from businessmen and cinestars. Some were also entrusted with contract killing missions. His name also cropped up for making huge demands from Manisha Koirala.

The animosity between Abu Salem and Anees Ibrahim has increased considerably. Recently, Anees along with his trusted persons raided the office of a close Abu Salem accomplice, called Farzan. After catching Farzan, Anees threatened to kill him and searched his office. A whole lot of original passports were recovered during this search.

It is understood that Dawood has 20 passports, Abu Salem 12, Chhota Rajan eight and Chhota Shakeel six. Why does anybody need several passports? Obvious reason: a criminal wants his passport to look to be a newly-made one as a first-time traveller is normally seen as a risk-free traveller.


Abu Salem factsheet

Abu SalemName: Abu Salem Abdul Qayoom Ansari

Aliases: Aqil Ahmed Azmi , Captain, Abu Samaan, Arsan Mohsin Ali

Father’s Name: Abdul Qayoom Abdul Hafiz Year of birth: 1969.

Place of birth: Sarai Mir, Azamgarh, UP. Physical features: Fair complexion, hair black, eyes black, medium built, height 5`4".

Activities: (i) Used to be a prominent henchman of Dawood Ibrahim and was incharge of D company’s hawala transactions till he split from Dawood.

(ii) Involved in Mehsana RDX recovery case of December 1997.

(iii) Involved in Gulshan Kumar murder case of August 1997, number DCP/CID, CR no 71/97. (iv) Detained by Dubai Police in a cheating case. INTERPOL Red Corner Alert Notice Number: A-103/3-1995

Monica Bedi’s 3 passports

Monica Bedi Monica Bedi was issued three genuine Indian passports from June , 1999 to August, 2001. Only her first passport, issued in Mumbai on June 24, 1999, gave her correct personal details. This passport (number B-0195737) showed her place of birth as Hoshiarpur (Punjab), date of birth as 18.1.1975 and permanent address as 19/603/604, Link Road, Behind Tarapur Garden, Oshiwara, Apna Bazar, Mumbai. It gives her father’s and mother’s names as Prem Kumar Bedi and Shakuntal Bedi, respectively. This passport, valid until June 23, 2019, consists of visas of several countries such as the USA, UK, Switzerland, Canada, Bangladesh and Norway, including resident permit of the UAE.

Her two other passports, though genuine, were on the basis of assumed identities. First in the name of Fauzia Usman and the second in the name of Sana Malik Kamal. One of these, (number B-5554776), was issued in Bhopal on June 29, 2001, and the other in Hyderabad on August 6, 2001. The Bhopal passport is the only one of the three passports which shows Monica as married. Interestingly, it gives the name of Abu Salem’s close friend Mohammad Usman Khan as her husband. Khan’s own passport (number B—0002312) issued from Dubai on December 16, 1999, also gives his wife’s name as Fauziya Usman. Monica’s Hyderabad passport was issued along with passport of Abu Salem issued in the name of Ramil Kamil Malik from Andhra Pradesh.

All about Abu’s men

Abu Salem has an amazing network of his own henchmen who perform jobs as diverse as keeping a vigil on the crime branch officers, carrying out hawala transactions, spotting targets for extortions, clandestine supply of weapons and collecting intelligence about the activities of top builders and businessmen so that they can be more effectively coerced into paying up money to the gangsters. Though Salem has scores of men at his disposal, at least 14 of his trusted lieutenants find a special mention in a CBI dossier on the ganglord. Given the secrecy of the case, it is difficult to say when the following details were updated and what is the current status of Abu Salem’s accomplices named below:

1. Shahrukh Balsara — He is very close to Abu Salem and maintains regular contact. A resident of Bandra West, Mumbai, he is an estate agent whose main job is to pass information to Salem about the movement of Mumbai Police crime branch officers, businessmen and builders to assist the gang in its operations.

2. Sheikh Nawaj Ahmed — He is the "hawala transactions" specialist for Abu Salem.

3. Faiz Ahmed R Sheikh — In CBI records, this Public Prosecutor happens to be a major investor of Abu Salem in Mumbai.

4 to 7. Vishwa, Bhaskar, Mohan and Sanam — They are the ones who are believed to be looking after the weapons department. They are the ones holding AK-series assault rifles. They are wanted in connection with the murder of Babua at Kaka Beer Bar.

8. Nazim — This man of Bombay Palace is believed to be managing the finance department for Abu Salem.

9. Salim Khan — He specialises in spotting targets for extortions and killings.

10. Yusuf Khan alias John — Absconder in the Ramdas Naik murder case, he is one of the favourite hitmen of Salem. He holds a Pakistani passport in the name of Hasan Ali.

11 to 13. Mussamil, Saif and Afzal — They are Abu Salem’s strategic weapons. These sharpshooters are residents of Narendra Park, Naya Nagar, Mira Road, Thane district of Maharashtra.

14. Umar Patil Ghanchi — A resident of Buhari Mohalla, Dongri, he is the main contact of Abu Salem.