Wednesday, February 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

E-mail points to Al-Qaida links
Ansari’s secret messages to Laden man found
Rajeev Sharma and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
Even as the CBI has asked two leading e-mail service providers, and, to furnish the printouts of all e-mails sent by Aftab Ansari in the past one year, The Tribune today got an exclusive account of some of the damning e-mails which hint at his possible linkage with Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

The e-mails also nail down Pakistani authorities’ rebuttal of their nexus with the deported underworld don.

The two e-mail service providers have agreed to cooperate with the CBI, though the process of locating Ansari’s e-mails is going to be a tedious and time-consuming job.

Well-placed sources here said a series of e-mails were exchanged in August 2001 between Ansari, Bin Laden’s inner-ring man Ahmed Omar Sayed Sheikh and Asif Reza Khan, the notorious gangster who was shot dead in an encounter with the Gujarat Police on December 7 last - an act which triggered off the January 22 Kolkatta American Centre shootout in revenge.

Sheikh, a graduate of London School of Economics, is believed to be the current deputy head of the banned militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). He was released along with JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar in exchange for the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 passengers in 1999. Asif Reza Khan was branded by investigators as the “chief executive of Ansari’s operations” in India.

Omar Sheikh, a suave, English-speaking chess buff, is understood to be in Pakistan ever since he was taken out from the Tihar jail here and released in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on December 31, 1999. From Afghanistan, the three released prisoners had gone to Pakistan.

Investigators have intercepted hundreds of e-mail communications among Ansari, Sheikh and Khan, three of which are reproduced below. The e-mails indicate that Ansari had arranged for $ 100,000 for some “noble cause” as early as August 2001.

This fact is enough to make the Americans take note of the Aftab Ansari case with a new perception as the amount of $ 1 lakh arranged by Ansari could well have a connection to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on America.

Considering the ramifications of the case, the contents of the e-mails have been shared with the Interpol, FBI and other foreign investigating agencies.

In the August 8, 2001 e- mail, Ansari asks Khan whether he agrees “to part with $ 100,000 for a noble cause as requested by Sheikh”. The next day, Khan sent an e-mail saying that he is “agreeable and has no objections”.

Two days later ( August 11), Ansari sent an e-mail to Khan saying that “the amount mentioned has been sent to Sheikh”.

On August 19, Sheikh sent an e-mail to Ansari which said: "The money that was sent has been passed on." Interestingly the militants had adopted a mode of communication similar to that followed by Mohammad Atta and other members of Al-Qaida to carry out the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC).

PTI adds from Kolkata: The city police sleuths are looking for a number of accomplices of terrorist kingpin Aftab Ansari after he revealed their names and nature of involvement, Deputy Commissioner (I) of Police, Detective Department, Mr Soumen Mitra, said.

Most of these persons are already wanted by the city police, he said. Mitra, who was in Delhi along with the Inspector General of Police, CID, Mr Partha Bhattacharjee to interrogate Ansari, told a press conference here that Ansari admitted his involvement with at least eight terrorist and fundamentalist organisations all over the world including the ISI, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.Back


Ansari accomplice admits to giving money to ISI

Rajkot, February 12
Terrorist suspect Raju Anadkat has confessed that the gang he belonged to used to funnel money to Pakistan’s ISI and to gang leader Aftab Ansari, the alleged mastermind of last month’s attack on the Kolkata American Center, police sources said.

Raju had told the police during his interrogation that the ransom his gang obtained for the release of a local jeweller, Mr Bhaskar Parekh, was sent to Ansari’s Dubai-based gang and that part of it was also funnelled to the ISI.

The Pakistani intelligence agency helped the gang by providing arms, ammunition and other facilities, the sources quoted Raju as having told the police.

A large amount of money extorted from Indian industrialists and jewellers was provided to the ISI for running its terrorist activities in India, they quoted Raju as saying.

The terrorist suspect was produced before a Special Magistrate and the order was expected by the evening today.

Raju, an alleged close associate of Aftab Ansari, was arrested by the CBI after deportation from Dubai last week.

While Aftab was on a CBI remand in New Delhi in connection with the January 22 attack on the American Center in Kolkata, Raju was brought to Rajkot in connection with the abduction of Mr Parekh who was kidnapped in November 2000 and was “released” after a month under mysterious circumstances in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, sources said Aftab, too, was likely to be brought to Rajkot by February 16. UNIBack

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