Mumbai: Changing power equations in ‘D Company’, the criminal syndicate led by Dawood Ibrahim has intelligence agencies intrigued. Call intercepts point towards the new power equations in Dawood Ibrahim’s criminal empire with the alleged emergence of his younger brother, Mustaqeem, who is suspected to be calling the shots in ‘D Company’.
“Pakistan was desperate to get out of the FATF grey list on global money laundering and terror financing watchdog for last four years and had to show significant progress by curbing the Dawood Ibrahim syndicate to avoid sanctions. India had received significant inputs on hawala operators, which led to the crackdown on Dawood’s associates and hawala operators,” claimed an official of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
All calls and messages are being handled by trusted aide, Fahim Machmach, with no family members being directly involved in criminal activities.
“Fahim Machmach’s death due to covid in August led to a void in D Company’s communications with associates in India and the UAE. Dawood has strictly forbidden family members to not get directly involved. Even Anis Ibrahim had taken a backseat from counterfeiting and drug trafficking,” contended a veteran Mumbai Police Crime Branch officer, who has been tracking the Dawood gang for 27 years.
As such, NIA officials were surprised to hear the alleged voice of Mustaqeem, settling business disputes in call intercepts with Chhota Shakeel's brother-in-law Mohammed Salim Mohammed Iqbal Qureshi alias Salim Fruit, who is on the radar of probe agencies in connection with alleged money laundering, narco-terrorism, and smuggling.
Mustaqeem and Humayum, who is also Dawood's younger brother, have no criminal record and travel regularly to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and African nations for business.
NIA hit paydirt in routine surveillance of Salim Fruit when call intercepts led them to conversation allegedly with builder Aslam Patni, who claimed to have met Mustaqeem in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the settlement of a business dispute. The probe into meetings in Saudi Arabia involving the Dawood gang’s Mumbai associates led investigators to the view that Mustaqeem has allegedly emerged as the key member in the criminal syndicate.
However, advocate Viquar Rajguru, representing Salim Fruit, said that "Mustaqeem and Salim Fruit had strained relations after some business disputes leading to Salim’s deportation to India. The alleged calls are bogus and a figment of imagination by investigating agencies.” Rajguru alleged that stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act were foisted on Salim Fruit.
NIA had in February registered a case related to “terrorist and criminal activities” of smuggling, narco-terrorism, money laundering, circulation of fake currency, raising terror funds, and working in active collaboration with international terrorist organisations including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Qaeda, allegedly by gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his associates.
A series of 20 raids were conducted in Mumbai and adjoining Thane district against alleged associates of Dawood Ibrahim in which NIA picked up Salim Fruit from his residence in Bhendi Bazar. The premier anti-terror investigation agency had conducted raids at a housing society in Mumbai's Nagpada area, Bhendi Bazar, Santacruz, Mahim, and Goregaon areas of Mumbai, Mumbra in Thane and other places against associates of Dawood Ibrahim including several hawala operators and drug peddlers for money laundering and terror funding.
TheEnforcement Directorate had also questioned Qureshi as part of its probe in a money laundering case linked to Dawood Ibrahim.
Last month, Salim Fruit and four others were arrested by the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of Mumbai Police for allegedly usurping ownership of a building on Umerkhadi Road near Dongri by forging property documents.
According to AEC officials, the hawala and extortion business of D Company was managed allegedly by Salim Fruit in Mumbai with instruction on mobile phones over VoIP calls from Karachi and Dubai.
“It is surprising that Mustaqeem is surfacing in criminal activities. Dawood did not allow any family members, including his son Moin, to be involved in crime,” said senior journalist Vivek Agrawal who has extensively covered the Mumbai underworld for 35 years.
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