In Jammu and Kashmir spreading terrorism has transformed into an industry with an annual inflow of estimated Rs 150 million filling the pockets of terrorist commanders and Kashmiri separatist leaders.
This aspect of illegal money transactions popularly known as ?hawala? shot the headlines when one Kashmiri Aizaz Hussain Khwaja, a Lashkar-e-Toiba conduit was arrested with Rs 5 million in cash soon after Mumbai blasts. He reportedly told his interrogators that he used to receive money from a Dubai based Kashmiri businessman along with instructions to whom the money was to be handed over, the sources said.
He used to send money through human ?couriers?, who in turn stashed it on the rooftop of state-run buses to Srinagar to avoid physical checking and surveillance, informed sources said.
Khawja said he used to get instructions from mostly through the Internet and used to bring in money mainly to the Muslim separatist leaders and Lashker-e-Toiba terrorists based in Kashmir.
Hawala is a system through which money is transferred from one part of the world to another without following the normal banking channels. Though no one perhaps knows how and when this method of money transfer started.
Few weeks back, another person Alam Din, a conduit for channeling money to Pakistani terrorists inside the high-security Kotbalwal jail in Jammu was arrested with Rs 36,000. A road side tea vendor, Alam admitted that he had carried it several times in the past to terrorists in prison.
Indian intelligence sources say that money exchange offices based in Gulf countries are suspected to be involved in hawala operations to fund terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
This fact was brought to light in March, 2006 with the arrest of two wealthy Dubai based Kashmiri businessmen and money exchangers?Nasir Safi Mir and Mohd Aslam Wani. Nasir ran two offices by the name of Cash Express and Rim Exchange in Dubai.
Police claim Wani was hawala conduit for Kashmiri separatist leader, Shabbir Ahmed Shah of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party and received the consignment on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Abu Baqar'sorders. While Mir was conduit for Kashmiri separatist group, Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had received money on orders from Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.
Both separtist leaders had been paid Rs 20 million and 5 million respectively, according to the two arrested Kashmiri businessmen in past six months. Similarly, the interrogation of a Kashmiri Lashkar-e-Toiba master mind of October 2005 Delhi serial blasts, Tariq Ahmed Dar revealed that he received funds through online money transfers made by his contacts in Saudi Arabia, which he transferred to terrorists. According to an official report released by the Indian Home Ministry ?Rs 1.5 billion hawala money continues reach terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir every year?.
?Terrorism in Kashmir is a big business today?, says K Rajendra Kumar, former Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range. ?A large chunk of the illegal money is pumped through channels operating in Gulf and other West Asian countries. As these countries do not have stringent economic offences law, illegal funds are easy to send money to India to finance terrorists. We have not been able to break the hawala rackets fully. And I don'tthink we will be able to?, informed Rajenderan.
Terrorist'sproperty runs into millions. They have palatial buildings, lands, orchards and fleets of expensive vehicles. Others have flourishing businesses and large investments in real estate. ?If you look at the assets of some of the top anti-India leaders, you will be astounded. Billions of rupees have been found way into all top leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq , Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Abdul Ghani Lone. Some of them are facing court cases too but majority go free since there was no direct evidence in form of cash recovery or documentary evidence. All communication were verbal.
There was no telephonic or documentary evidence to prove that, an intelligence source said.
However, the last major expose was against the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik when a woman courier was arrested with $100,000 meant for him. Yasin was arrested and a case stands against him.
The funds intended to fund terrorist activity are often siphoned off for personal benefit, alleged a senior terrorist commander Mohammad Wasim, of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen adding that the people who courier money are paid 15 per cent of the commission.