Sunday, September 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Al-Qaida, ISI cell in Portugal?
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
The crucial question investigated by Indian security agencies in conjunction with their international counterparts is whether Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the underworld have a full-fledged cell in Portugal?

The security and intelligence community here is in a spin on this question for two reasons. First, Abu Salem, the mafia don who was arrested in Lisbon on September 18 on charges of false travel documents, had entered Portugal for getting a forged Portuguese passport, well placed sources here disclosed.

Secondly, Masood Azhar, the founder of Pakistan-based notorious terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad, was also carrying a Portuguese passport when he was arrested in India several years ago.

Besides these two cases, there have been some more instances of Pakistan-based criminals and terrorists using Portuguese travel documents which are invariably so cleverly forged that these look like the real ones. Sources say it is not possible to have a passport-forging facility running secretly in any country without the necessary infrastructure, known in security parlance as “cell” or “module”.

It is understood that the American and European secret services are deeply interested in the Portugal angle thrown up by the Abu Salem case because of the suspected nexus of Al-Qaida.

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