PFI terror funding case: NIA busts multi-state hawala network, 5 arrested | India News


NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency has busted a multi-state hawala network — running across Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar, with roots in the UAE — that was allegedly funding the terror activities of the outlawed radical outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).
Five persons were arrested on Tuesday in the PFI Phulwarisharif case for collecting illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handing them over for depositing in the bank accounts of various accused and suspects.
While tracing and tracking the funds being moved by PFI across the country, as part of its probe into the PFI Phulwarisharif case, NIA unearthed a large network of hawala operatives in South India.
The PFI funding-by-hawala module operating out of Bihar and Karnataka was busted following extensive searches by NIA teams in Kasargod, Kerala and Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka since Sunday. These searches were across eight locations and led to the seizure of multiple digital devices and incriminating documents containing details of transactions running into crores of rupees.
Five members of the PFI — identified as Mahammad Sinan, Sarfaraz Nawaz, Iqbal and Abdul Rafeek M, all from Dakshin Kannada district of Karnataka; and Abid K M from Kasaragod, Kerala — were arrested from Dakshin Kannada and Kasaragod for alleged involvement in PFI’s criminal conspiracy to move and channelise illicit funds procured from outside India for distribution among PFI cadres and leaders. While Iqbal and other associates are alleged to have illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handed them over to Mahammad Sinan, Abdul Rafeek M and Abid K M, arrested accused Md Sarfraz Nawaz and Md Mahammad Sinan — were found making deposits in the bank account of accused and suspects in PFI case, said NIA.
PFI was declared as an “unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on September 27 last year. However, NIA, while pursuing investigation leads in PFI cases since July 2022, found that its leaders and cadres, undeterred by the ban, were continuing to propagate the ideology of violent extremism and also arranging arms and ammunition for the radicalised to commit crimes against a particular community.
PFI cadres in Phulwarisharif and Motihari too had vowed to continue PFI activities in a clandestine manner in Bihar and arranged a firearm and ammunition recently to eliminate a youth of a particular community in Bihar’s East Champaran District. Three operatives of the module were arrested on 5.2.2023.
Seven accused persons were arrested earlier when they had gathered in the Phulwarisharif area of Patna in July last year for training and to carry out acts of terror and violence.
Pursuing the investigational leads since July 2022, the NIA team had “followed the money”, only to reach Md. Sarfraz Nawaz and Md. Mahammad Sinan, who had been found making deposits in the bank accounts of accused and suspects in the PFI case.
After dogged pursuit of the money trail and connecting the dots, NIA managed to unravel the international conspiracy and linkages to the funds while investigating Iqbal and other associates who had collected illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handed them over to Mahammad Sinan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Abdul Rafeek M and Abid K. M. in India. Investigations have shown that Mohammad Sarfaraz, Md. Sinan and Md. Rafeek deposited this money in different bank accounts of the accused and the suspects.


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