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RBI tightens screws on terror funding
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Sources and channels of funding to terrorism have been put under a scanner in India. Authorities concerned have been asked to keep a tab on money transfers that may be used to route the money to fund the “terror-factory” of the dreaded Al-Qaida and other terrorist organisations operating in South-East Asia.

A secret list of people and individuals who have been placed on the “watch list” was being scrutinised by intelligence agencies as several of the names may be linked to funding of terrorist organisations and incidents in India. Sources in the intelligence set-up said since banks in the US, UK and the European Union have tightened the screws on funds, banks based in India could be used to channelise money by these organisations.

The banking sector in India is hi-tech and sophisticated in the metros but it still does not allow a computer at any bank to block transfer of funds through cheques issued to these organisations or individuals. Also branches of the banks located in rural areas are not connected through an online banking system hence these could be an easy target of any terrorist organisation. Also it may be mentioned that some of the accused in the recent train blasts in Mumbai in July were found to be employed in small towns in North India.

The Reserve Bank of India has issued detailed instructions to banks on how to curb the money transfer and has also provided an updated list.

Even though the RBI “watch-list” has named underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as an associate of Al-Qaida, it largely deals with remnants of the erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan led by Osama Bin Laden that was toppled following the invasion by US-led allied forces. The list also has the names of few Pakistan-based trusts and NGOs. The Jaish-e-Mohamed the organisation of Maulana Masood Azhar, one of the militants who was released from captivity in India in lieu of safe passage for passengers on board the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar, is also listed.

The others from Pakistan include The Aid Organisation of the Ulema, Pakistan, The Al-Rashid Trust, The Al-Akhtar Trust International and the Al-Haramain Foundation. The last one has branches in African and European countries.

The letter has asked banks to directly inform a special cell of the RBI if any transaction is noticed. The list was last updated a few days ago on August 24. It has five sections. The list of individuals belonging to or associated with the Taliban has 142 persons. The list of entities belonging to or associated with the Taliban has an Afghanistan-based bank. The list of individuals belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaida organisation has 217 individuals. The list of entities belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaida organisation has another 123 organisations. It is under this category that the Pakistani organisations are linked.

The names have been put as they would appear in a national passport. Four separate name fields have been provided for each individual on the list in order to allow for the full range of naming conventions where Arabic-based names are common. Professional or religious titles are also mentioned.

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