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The money trail

November 18, 2012

The photo is a re-enactment using actors.

It is an established fact that monetary gain is the primary objective behind most cases of kidnapping for ransom, irrespective of who is involved. Numerous criminal elements have jumped onto the bandwagon to make quick money. Criminal gangs from interior Sindh are very active in this crime as they kidnap victims from Karachi and keep them in interior Sindh for months while demanding big ransom amounts, says SSP anti-violent crime cell (AVCC) Niaz Ahmed Khosa. The funds generated by these criminal gangs are used for arms procurement and other criminal activities, the officer observed.

Apart from these, extremist elements or militants and the Taliban also have a share in the kidnappings and the funds generated through the kidnappings are being utilised in terrorism in the country.

In April 2009, the renowned filmmaker, Satish Anand, was set free after six months of captivity and payment of an undisclosed amount as ransom. He was held captive in North Waziristan.

This was the first case highlighting that kidnapping was outsourced and the kidnappee was transported from Karachi to Waziristan. The ‘transporter’, Retd. Major Ashiq Haroon, is said to have carried out the job for Illyas Kashmiri out of conviction to the cause and not for money. He was caught by the Islamabad and Motorway police when he was transporting another kidnappee picked up from Islamabad.

Some inter-provincial gangs from Sindh and Balochistan often collude with each other; for instance a gang kidnaps a person from Sindh and hands him over to their counter part in Balochistan for ‘safe keeping’. They don’t sell the kidnappee, but share the booty once the ransom is received, Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Chief, Ahmed Chinoy said.

However, kidnapping is not like the auto theft business where one party carries out the snatching or stealing part and the vehicle is handed over to the second party against payment, CPLC chief explained.

It has recently come to fore that some criminal gangs also use electronic transfer of funds through the facility of ‘Easy Paisa’, a cellular phone facility through which funds can be transferred, shared an investigator. However, so far this trend has only been seen in Karachi, he observed.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the mercenary groups working for TTP pick high-profile people who are in a position to pay huge ransom. Two high profile personalities were kidnapped from Lahore in August 2011, both of whom are believed to have been picked by TTP and Al Qaeda.

The Al Qaeda is demanding release of some of the arrested militants as well as ransom in exchange of the American aid worker, security sources say.

However, Aamir Malik, the abducted civilian son-in-law of former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General (Retd.) Tariq Majid, was kidnapped from his residence in Lahore in August 2010. The videotaped message received later showed masked militants wielding Kalashnikovs in the background. According to the security sources, the kidnapped man was shifted to the militants’ hideouts in South Waziristan from where he was transported to North Waziristan. Malik bought his freedom in March 2012 after his family reportedly paid a large sum as ransom to the abductors from North Waziristan.

Referring to the kidnappings taking place in Karachi, the chief of CPLC says that elements from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are responsible for 20 to 25 per cent of the kidnappings taking place from Karachi. “They demand huge ransom and keep the victims for a much longer period,” he observed.