New Delhi, May 15: The investigation against Faisal Hassan Mirza, the Mumbai native arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad for allegedly planning terrorist attacks in Mumbai, has once again thrown the spotlight on the ease with which Indian citizens can be taken to terrorist training camps in Pakistan.
Inquiries into Mirza's case have also revealed a new modus operandi in smuggling recruits into Pakistan, which allegedly works with help from the Inter Services Agency (ISI), Pakistan's premier intelligence agency.
Sources said that over the last few years, there have been repeated indications of Indian citizens being taken to Pakistan for terrorist training and the modus operandi used to smuggle Mirza into Pakistan confirms that not only is the recruitment and training module of the ISI very much active but is also evolving in accordance with the methods of investigation employed by Indian counter-terrorism agencies. Speaking about the issue, Additional Director General of Police (Maharashta ATS) Atulchandra Kulkarni, said, "Terrorist training camps across the border are very much active and continue to be a threat."
Mirza, 32, an electrician by profession, was arrested in the early hours of May 11 by the Juhu unit of the ATS in a multi-agency operation involving the Kolkata ATS and Central agencies. Officials said that Mirza travelled to Pakistan earlier this year, underwent training in a terrorist training camp and returned, after which he was asked to wait for further orders. "While earlier, recruits would reach Pakistan and then be taken to training camps, we have found that a different modus operandi was used in Mirza's case. He first went to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to meet his handler, Farooq Devadiwala, who is an old aide of wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. From Sharjah, he went to Dubai and was put on a flight to Nairobi in Kenya via Karachi in Pakistan. He was asked to get off in Karachi, where 'help' would be waiting for him," an officer who is part of the investigation said.
At Karachi, Mirza's entry into Pakistan was allegedly facilitated by ISI agents, who took him to the training camp. There, Mirza is alleged to have undergone training in handling arms and explosives, assembling and using Improvised Explosive Devices and executing fidayeen attacks.
"After his training was complete, he was once again taken to Karachi, and from there to Dubai, from where he was put on a flight to Mumbai. We received information that Mirza had recently returned and started tracking him. He was ultimately picked up late on the night of May 10 for questioning," the officer said.