Well-connected network: Drug traffickers funding Taliban, al Qaeda, says FIA

Published: May 23, 2011

Money being channelled through Hundi, Hawala agents in Peshawar, Fata. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

In the absence of a comprehensive policy, efforts to root out funding to the al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have remained unsuccessful, a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigator told The Express Tribune.

The money, mostly coming in through drug trafficking, is being channeled to the militants through the Hundi and Hawala business agents in Peshawar and the No-Go Areas of Fata.

Pakistani tribesmen from Fata and Afghan nationals are both involved in the Hundi and Hawala business.

The Taliban are using a large, well-connected network of the Afghan and Pakistani drug traffickers to get the money. The network is headed by a highly influential Afghan who is also involved in helping his countrymen in obtaining Pakistani national identity cards (NICs).

A United Bank manager in Peshawar, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that any Afghan businessman with a Pakistani visa valid for three months can open an account at any bank. The account holder will have to present an extension in his visa to maintain the account, the manager said.

However, he conceded that many such accounts by Afghan nationals were continuing without meeting the rules and procedures.

The FIA official said that many such Afghan bank account holders have obtained CNICs. At least 12 government and private banks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Peshawar, are being probed by the FIA for their involvement in the money laundering racket that funds the militants.

Investigations against these banks were launched after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) directed the FIA to take action against certain businessmen from the Karkhano market, close to Hayatabad   a upper middle class area in Peshawar, widely known for smuggled goods.

The FIA arrested Akbar Khan and two of his accomplices for maintaining bank accounts under fictitious names, identities and addresses for their companies.

Over Rs10 million had also been frozen after a case was registered against the accused in March this year. These bank accounts were being used for money laundering.

Under the law, the offence is non-bailable, however, the accused were freed after a local court accepted their bail plea.

Over 39 money laundering cases were detected in Peshawar by the FIA during the last six months, but most of the persons arrested for the crime were freed after their bail pleas were accepted by the court.

A senior official in the provincial law department, on the condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the FIA did not contest the cases when the court took up the bail applications for hearing.

FIA Deputy Director, Peshawar, Zaibullah Khan told The Express Tribune that a well known jeweller who heads the scam and had migrated to Pakistan about 10 years ago, also holds a Pakistani CNIC. He said that NADRA officials in Peshawar had failed to provide the documents pertaining to his Pakistani citizenship.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2011.

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