Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
In 1997, when Gulshan Kumar, Mumbai’s film producer and owner of a music production company named T-Series was murdered by the members of D-Company racket, Indian intelligence agencies got hold of pieces of evidence of Dawood’s collections with Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was learned that Dawood had found a comrade in the arms and narcotics trade inside LTTE. With the help of this Sri Lankan separatist entity, D-Company was smuggling contraband drugs into France, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, and the UK etcetera. In exchange for joining hands with the D-Company, Tamil Tigers were not only receiving a huge amount of cash rather it also was getting sophisticated weapons such as AK-56 assault rifles and other types of automatic weapons.
An individual named Kumaran Padmanabha (also known as KP) was the chief procurer of arms for the LTTE. The initial connection between D-Company and LTTE was established through one of Dawood’s trusted aides and LTTE representative Kumaran Padmanabha. According to intelligence reports, Kumaran had traveled to Pakistan on a number of times under Muslim name and had established a liaison office of LTTE in Karachi. Through this office, D-Company and LTTE had jointly supplied a huge cache of arms to Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Masood Khan in 1995 in exchange for opium.
Counter-terrorism experts believe, Dawood owes a large part of his success in his narcotic and arms trafficking to LTTE, which, apart from assisting him in transiting narcotics abroad, had also helped Dawood streamline operations in India through its bases in the south (the coastal areas of Tuticorin and Thanjavur) and in the west (Mumbai and the creeks of Gujarat). Ironically, the entire maze of operations is so complex—with at least four layers of middlemen who take orders and transport consignments—that not even a single known transaction can be traced to Dawood.
Most importantly, what really makes it difficult for the investigating agencies to track a big heroin sale is the fact that most of the deals are struck in Dubai, neither in Karachi nor in Mumbai. Once the deal is struck, the drug is procured in Karachi and sent across the Gujarat border. This route is chosen since Karachi port is closely monitored by international agencies cracking down on the narcotics trade and because the desert belt that separates India and Pakistan has long stretches where intensive surveillance is not possible because of the rough terrain.
It was even learned that Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company had established discreet business relations with a member of the UAE Royal family, while it also was reported that Dubai ruler Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum’s wife Princess Haya Bint al Hussein has intimacy with one of her Pakistani school friend, who had later joined ISI. It most probable that Princess Haya is the member of the UAE Royal family having secret links with the D-Company.
In May 2009, Sri Lankan police arrested an individual named Mirza Mohiddin Baig, a man was on the Interpol’s wanted list from Colombo, after a long stint and deported him to India.
A few hundred of the LTTE core cadre had gone underground with huge quantities of arms and deadly explosive RDX after the Sri Lankan army stormed their bastion killing their leader V Prabhakaran in 2009. According to intelligence reports, a large number of LTTE men had gone under the care of Pakistani ISI and were being used for spreading terror both inside India and Sri Lanka. At the mediation of ISI, these LTTE men had formed an alliance with jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, while Dawood’s network in India is ready to provide logistic support to the members of LTTE-jihadist conglomerate in launching terrorist attacks inside India and Sri Lanka.
D-Company using LTTE’s western connections
Back in 1997, a Tamil Nadu-based shipping company was owned by an LTTE operative named Captain David. Dawood has immensely benefitted from his tie-up with Tigers, who have both resources and wide networks all over the world. In France, for instance, Patrick Condier, a retired army officer and international dealer in arms and drugs, was working for LTTE. Dawood, too, was using this contact to market heroin by offloading it at Marseilles.
In the United Kingdom, where Dawood has been operating since the early ’80s—the D Company hasn’t relied on the LTTE men. A man named Umarji Moosa Patel, an old-time Dawood ally, was supervising the operations in London, taking telephonic instructions directly from Dawood in Karachi. This, despite the fact that Umarji was wanted by the UK authorities.
In Germany, for instance, another individual named Sooriyakumar Selvadurai, an LTTE agent-based in Dusseldorf, was coordinating with Umarji for cargo coming into the UK and having it transported to the continent.
Jihadist foothold in Sri Lanka
No one possibly was paying attention to the case of the rise of radical Islamic jihadist groups in Sri Lanka until the infamous Easter Sunday suicide bombings in 2019. With this incident, counterterrorism experts had realized, Islam’s bloody borders were moving eastwards. By now, it has established bases both in Sri Lanka as well as in Tamil Nadu and other provinces in India.
For over 30 years, Sri Lanka was plagued with violence from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), better known as the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE became so large that it had its own navy and air force, wore uniforms, and became what French scholar Xavier Raufer called part of the “grey area phenomenon” — a category between clandestine terror organization and nation-state.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president of Sri Lanka in 2005 and made his brother Gotabhaya the country’s defense minister, they reversed a decades-long policy of addressing grievances and negotiating with the LTTE. Subsequently, Sri Lanka waged a war and had defeated the Tamil Tiger. Although most of the counterterrorism experts believe Tamil Tigers now exists only in memories and few websites, the reality is totally different.
The 2019 jihadist attack in Colombo was the first case, where a conglomerate of the jihadists and LTTE had given a slight example of its existence, while Pakistani ISI and D-Company are cooperating with LTTE with the dangerous agenda of providing logistics and instructions of various jihadist outfits in India’s Tamil Nadu state as well as other parts of the country. In other words, Pakistani ISI is taking secret preparations of successfully spreading jihadist notoriety inside India, for which, ISI already has recruited several experts, who had played an important role while dealing with the Afghan Taliban and later a few militancy outfits. If anyone will assume, the 2019 Easter Sunday jihadist attack would not repeat in Sri Lanka – it will be a huge blunder. Instead, there are possibilities of similar attacks both inside Sri Lanka and India – most possibly India in the near future.
Read the next installment: D-Company’s South Asia network
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz