New Delhi, Aug. 20: Suspected Lashkar bomb-maker Abdul Karim Tunda worked closely with Calcutta-born Indian Mujahideen founder Amir Reza Khan in Pakistan to recruit youths from Bengal, Delhi police officers have said.
“Amir helped him to get recruits as he (Amir) had a very good network in Bengal and parts of north India. Both worked in tandem for the past seven years. Amir provided him with logistics support in pushing trained terrorists into India through Bangladesh,” said a senior Delhi officer.
Amir, a founder-member of the Indian Mujahideen and an accused in the 2002 American Center attack in Calcutta, grew up at Mofidul Islam Lane in the city’s Beniapukur area. He fled to Pakistan after crossing over to Bangladesh following the attack.
Tunda and Amir were introduced to each other by an ISI operative in Pakistan in 2003 and, since then, bonded to advance their common agenda of plotting attacks in India, the officer added.
“Tunda and Amir even travelled together to West Asia several times to raise funds for their groups,” the officer said.
Tunda, one of the earliest jihadi recruits in India, was also a guiding force behind the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), many of whose members are later suspected to have joined the Indian Mujahideen, Delhi police sources said.
Amir’s good network in Calcutta as well as the Bengal districts bordering Bangladesh helped the Lashkar in pushing terrorists into India and finding them a safe haven, Tunda’s interrogators have said.
“Tunda told us that several Simi members from Bengal, who had gone underground after the organisation was banned in 2003, are now working for Amir in Pakistan and are very active,” another officer said.
The master bomb-maker’s interrogation has helped security agencies understand how India’s first Lashkar cell carried out 43 small blasts in Mumbai and Hyderabad and seven separate explosions on trains with the help of Tunda during 1993-1994, following the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.
An Interpol red corner notice, to facilitate his arrest at entry points of countries, was issued against Tunda in 1996.
In Pakistan, he was trained in making bombs by the ISI, the police said. Tunda told interrogators he met former ISI chief Hamid Gul in 1995-1996. “ISI has got several tanzeems (organisations) like the Lashkar and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Tunda said most Lashkar operatives are paid Rs 3,000-Rs 4000 per month,” an officer said.
Born into a lower middle-class family in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district, Tunda is fluent in Urdu and Gujarati. He told interrogators he became radicalised after one of his relatives was burnt alive in a riot in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi.
Tunda initially worked as a carpenter and scrap dealer in Delhi and Ghaziabad. He later started a cloth dyeing business in Mumbai.
“His three wives stay in Lahore. He has nine children. The youngest is a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, born to third wife Asma,” said M.M. Oberoi, joint commissioner of Delhi police’s special cell
One of Tunda’s sons, Abdul Waris, 48, was arrested in Kashmir in the late 1990s and spent eight years in jail. “He (Abdul) is a Laskar operative and now in Pakistan,” Oberoi added.