KARACHI: The Counter-Terrorism Department on Monday claimed to have arrested a university student for his alleged involvement in “terror financing”.

“The CTD arrested Hafiz Mohammed Omar bin Khalid on charges of international terror financing when he was trying to escape the city,” CTD DIG Omar Shahid Hamid told a press conference.

He added that the held suspect was a final-year student at the NED University of Engineering and Technology.

“He was involved in sending money to families of militants linked with the militant Islamic State group in Syria,” he said.

CTD says it had first arrested the suspect last month but he was released on bail

He used to provide cash to one Zia in Hyderabad, who converted it into dollars and sent them to Syria. He has sent over Rs1 million so far, the DIG added.

The CTD had earlier received information that some people were collecting funds from Pakistan to send them to IS militants in Syria through different channels.

Mobile phone data leads to breakthrough

Acting on a tip-off, the police first arrested the said suspect on Dec 17, 2020 and recovered two mobile phones from him. He was released on bail as at that time the CTD had no “concrete evidence”.

However, the seized mobile phones were sent to the CTD’s technical section for a forensic examination. The CTD received the report on Jan 11, which identified the suspect’s links with the people that collected funds from Pakistan and sent them to IS militants in Syria.

It also transpired that he was in direct contact with suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Syria through their families.

The DIG said the held suspect received money from unknown persons in Pakistan who had links with the families of the IS militants in Syria.

Subsequently, he transferred those funds to Zia in Hyderabad through a mobile wallet firm. Zia converted the money into dollars and sent the same through bitcoin to the families of the militants in Syria. This activity had been going on for last two years, it claimed.

The CTD lodged an FIR against suspect Khalid and other unknown suspects on Jan 11 and arrested him when he was trying to flee the city through train at Cantt Station.

Pakistani families in Syria

The DIG said that it was an international terror financing case as funding was made through a mobile wallet firm and bitcoin.

CTD officer Raja Umar Khattab said that the suspect had friendship with one Saad who had links with Al Qaeda. He was influenced by his friend, who had been missing since long, to join militancy, he added.

Khattab said “jihadi families” in Syria had established Twitter accounts through which they demand funds.

He said different social media apps were being used for coordination.

Meanwhile, DIG Hamid told Dawn that the militants’ families in Syria were reportedly those Pakistani women who had gone there and married IS militants.

They were in touch with militants in Pakistan and asked for funds, he said.

Khattab said that such families belonged to Punjab, particularly Lahore. He said women were being used to generate funds for the militants.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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