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26/11 phone family in Italy net

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 22.11.09
Mohammad (top) and Aamer

Nov. 21 (Agencies): Italian police today arrested a Pakistani father and son who allegedly spent a little over Rs 10,000 to set up an untraceable phone network that was used by terrorists during the 26/11 rampage in Mumbai last year.

The two, 60-year-old Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and 31-year-old Aamer Yaqub Janjua, were arrested in an early morning raid in Brescia, a northern Italian city, where they managed a money transfer agency, the police said. One Pakistani man escaped arrest.

The police said it was not immediately clear if the two were aware of the purpose their funds had served.

The day before the attacks began on November 26, the two allegedly sent money using a stolen identity to a US company to activate Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia.

The transfer was $229 (Rs 10,534) but gave the attackers five lines over the Internet, which allowed militants to keep in touch even during the rampage, Fonsi said.

The arrests underscored the ease with which small sums can be channelled to fund deadly terror plots. Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Fonsi said.

In New Delhi, Indian officials said the duo had a red corner notice issued against them by Interpol. The officials said Mohammad and Aamer fled from Italy to Pakistan after the attacks but had returned recently.

India does not have an extradition treaty with Italy. But it has an “extradition arrangement” under which Delhi will try to bring the duo to India, the officials said.

One of the 19 foreigners killed in Mumbai — the first anniversary is five days away — was an Italian.

The funds were transferred under the identity of another Pakistani man who was not involved in the attacks, Fonsi said. He lives in Spain.

The order to open the accounts with the Callphonex company came from two men in Pakistan, he said. Italian authorities have informed Pakistan of their identities.

The two suspects in Brescia are accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism. Their agency, Madina Trading, operates on the Western Union money transfer network. Callphonex and Western Union are not accused of any wrongdoing.

By using the stolen identity, the arrested suspects had transferred $590,000 between 2006 and 2008 to various countries, the police said.