Malaysian authorities have shared with India, the interrogation and other details pertaining to a Sri Lankan national, who had been arrested in that country on the charge of conspiring to carry out terror strikes on the US and Israeli consulates in South India.
The interrogation report suggests that 47-year-old Mohammed Hussain had admitted he was part of the conspiracy and had promised Sakir Hussain, his compatriot, to help reach two suicide bombers to the southern coast from Maldives, official sources said.
While Hussain, who has been convicted, is at present serving a jail term in Tamil Nadu, co-accused Sulaiman has been deported to Sri Lanka from Malaysian custody.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) had requested Malayasia for details under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), signed by the two countries in 2012.
India had secured an Interpol Red Corner Notice against him for allegedly hatching “criminal conspiracy, acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention, possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes, terrorist act and raising funds for terrorist act”.
In the interrogation report, he is alleged to have claimed that he had been tasked to ferry two terrorists from Maldives to a south Indian coast to carry out terror strike at US Consulate in Chennai and Israeli Consulate in Bangalore.
Under the MLAT, either country can approach the other for collecting evidence against an accused.
However, Malaysian authorities ignored India’s production warrant for Sulaiman which was sent through diplomatic channels for early execution so that the planning behind the botched terror plot could be unravelled.
However, the Attorney General’s office in Malaysia did not proceed with the execution of the Indian production warrant and instead suggested to its government that it deport Sulaiman to Sri Lanka where he is allegedly facing a murder case.
India had argued that Sri Lanka did not immediately require Sulaiman’s custody and he could be a key to unravelling the terror plot wherein Pakistan’s ISI-backed groups had planned to target the US mission in Chennai and the Israeli consulate in Bangalore, the sources said.
This argument failed to cut ice with the Malaysian authorities, who decided in December last year to send Sulaiman back to his home country.
The terror plot was foiled due to effective coordination by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) with foreign countries as Malaysia tipped off the central agency about an alleged conspiracy being hatched via ISI-backed groups in Sri Lanka to carry out the attacks.
Malaysia had stumbled upon the case when its Special Unit was probing money laundering and human trafficking cases.
Hussain was alleged to be in touch with Pakistani ISI officers. The probe was handed over to NIA by the Tamil Nadu Police so that the conspiracy hatched overseas including in Sri Lanka and Malaysia could be unravelled.
The case was cracked with the arrest of Sri Lankan national Sakir Hussain on 29 April last year.
Hussain has named Colombo-based Pakistan High Commission’s Visa Consular Amir Zubair Siddiqui as his handler, a charge denied by Islamabad. However, facing heat from India, Pakistan shifted Siddiqui out of Colombo.
Hussain had told interrogators that Pakistan’s ISI was behind the terror plot, the sources claimed.
The reason for ISI to pick him up, according to Hussain, was that he had expertise in human trafficking, making forged passports, and smuggling fake Indian currency.
Pictures of US and Israeli consulates showing various gates and roads leading to the two premises had been recovered from his laptop, sources said, and claimed these photographs had been mailed to his alleged handlers in Pakistan and its High Commission in Colombo. (NDTV)