"Ansari Had Pakistani Patronage and Sheikh is Linked to Al Qaida"
February 25, 2002 issue
Pleased at the success of the CBI in securing Aftab Ansari from Dubai, P.C. Sharma, director of the investigating agency, spoke to Special Correspondent Sayantan Chakravarty about the arrest and the work put in by his team.
Q. How important is Ansari's arrest for the CBI?
A. It is important. He was emerging as the kingpin of a crime syndicate in India. We have enough documentary evidence to show that he has been indulging in crimes in India.
Q. Was Ansari in touch with terrorist outfits based in Pakistan?
A. We have been able to confirm that he is linked to terrorist outfits like the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami. In India he has committed crimes with the assistance of these outfits through remote-control mechanisms. There have also been instances when he has smuggled in drugs, arms and ammunition into India.
Q. What about his links with Sheikh?
A. Yes, he definitely had links with Omar Sheikh.
Q. What does the CBI know about Sheikh's India connections?
A. We strongly believe that Sheikh wired money to Al Qaida's Mohammad Atta. The information was shared with those who needed to know it. We are examining Sheikh's role in the attack on the American Center in Kolkata. We are also looking into his involvement in the IC 814 hijacking as well as the legal position of the cases in which he was arrested in India.
Q. Given that Sheikh is involved in the Daniel Pearl abduction, is there any
possibility of a joint FBI-CBI interrogation?
A. Any opportunity to interrogate Omar Sheikh will be certainly welcome, alone or with the FBI, should it be so required.
Q. Ansari had a genuine Pakistani passport. Does it show the complicity of
the Pakistani establishment?
A. It goes without saying that the Pakistani passport found in Ansari's possession could not have been issued without somebody's patronage in Pakistan.
Q. Getting a criminal from Dubai without extradition procedures is unprecedented.
How did it happen?
A. The deportation has been a great achievement. It was the result of painstaking efforts put in by the CBI. The CBI team led by Neeraj Kumar planned the exercise meticulously and executed it with the finesse and secrecy it deserved. Also, the deportation was made possible with the cooperation of the Dubai authorities and the efforts of our mission in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Q. How will you ensure that deportations such as these are facilitated in future?
A. I shall raise this point at the Regional Interpol Conference in Colombo next week. There is an urgent need for member countries to ease the handing over of wanted criminals by amending laws.
© Copyright 2002
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