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Hawaladar paid jihadist who killed 26

February 7, 2012

Mumbai blast site---July 13, 2011

According to Rediff News, a hawala dealer has been arrested in India for paying the triggerman behind the July 13 (also known as the 13/7) terrorist attacks against Mumbai that left 26 dead last year:

A suspected hawala operator, who allegedly handed over Rs 10 lakh to fugitive Indian Mujahiddin operative Yasin Bhatkal for executing the July 13 triple blasts that killed 27 people in Mumbai, has been arrested from Delhi, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad said on Tuesday.

“In a joint operation with Delhi Police’s special cell, the main hawala operator, Kanwar Nain Wazeer Chand Patrija, 42, who hails from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested from Delhi on Tuesday and brought to Mumbai,” Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

“Patrija had facilitated the payment used for commissioning the blasts. He was produced before a court today which remanded him in police custody till February 9,” the ATS chief said.

Often described inaccurately as an “Asian” money transfer system, hawala is established by Islamic law, particularly Book 37 of the Sahih Bukhari.  Muhammad encouraged the timely payment of debts by using third-party payers (who may or may not be known to the original borrower or lender).  The opaque global system that developed from Islam has made terrorist financing difficult to detect throughout the Muslim world and India today.

Hawala is lightly regulated in the U.S.  Money services businesses are required to register with FinCEN, a division of the Treasury Department.  In a recent case of a hawala operator who helped fund Faisal Shahzad’s failed attack in Times Square, prosecutors did not even seek the maximum sentence, and entered an agreement with the operator’s lawyers that allowed for probation only with no jail time.

Given hawala’s intimate role in terror financing, U.S. law enforcement should become at least as aggressive as its Indian counterparts in pursuing penalties against illicit hawala businesses.

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