Sohail Kaskar, nephew of India’s most-wanted man Dawood Ibrahim, is presently cooling his heels in a federal prison in the US after being convicted on charges of narco-terrorism, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to import narcotics.
Sohail Kaskar, nephew of India’s most-wanted man Dawood Ibrahim, is presently in a US jail. (Source: India Today)
He was convicted on September 12 and was awarded the prison time he had served since his arrest in 2015.
What the Indian agencies need to learn from the US is how the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) created a ring of confidential sources and used them to target some of the top names involved in the cartel smuggling high-end narcotics into the US.
Three other men were arrested along with Kaskar.
While working on the same lines, the DEA officers with the help of their confidential sources went on to get some arms suppliers into the picture demanding surface-to-air missiles for a terrorist organisation and reportedly got hold of Sohail Kaskar along with his bosses. They built a strong case against the four and with the help of Spain, extradited them and tried them on US soil.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) created a ring of confidential sources to nab Sohail Kaskar. (Source: Reuters)
India tries for extradition of Sohail Kaskar
Indian agencies have been trying hard through various diplomatic channels to get hold of Sohail Kaskar and sources say that talks with the US authorities have already begun on this line.
If India succeeds in getting Kaskar’s custody, it would be able to establish the role of the underworld gang — run by Dawood Ibrahim and his associates across India — in drug peddling, smuggling, money laundering, extortion - and, most importantly, terrorism.
Indian agencies would be able to blow the lid off the associates working from within the country for the fugitive don..
Kaskar would help uncover the shady role of the Pakistan government and their central intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in attacks launched on Indian soil with the help of terrorists trained in Pakistan.
Who is Sohail Kaskar
Kaskar is the son of Noora Kaskar, younger brother of the fugitive don. Noora died in 2009 reportedly due to kidney failure in Karachi. There were reports that Noora had been shot and he died due to bullet injuries but Dawood Ibrahim later floated the theory of his death due to kidney failure.
Sohail Kaskar is the son of Noora Kaskar, younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim. (Source: Twitter)
Sources in Mumbai crime branch have revealed that Noora had a falling out with the don and eventually wanted to go against the ISI and start running his narcotics operations from the Middle East.
It is also said that the ISI had a major role in the alleged attack on Noora that eventually led to his death.
Sohail had fled India when he was a kid along with Dawood Ibrahim, Noora, and other uncles to UAE and after the Mumbai serial bomb blasts in 1993, to Karachi in Pakistan.
He resided with the family in the Clifton locality of Karachi — by the early 2000s, he started handling the narcotics and arms businesses for the gang from the Middle East to Africa, extending up to Europe and the US. Sohail ran the gang’s narcotics business and was also apparently involved in the supply of arms and ammunition to terrorist organisations.
The DEA sting operation
Since 2013, the US DEA's special operations unit along with their Madrid office had been trailing two top names running a drug cartel across Asia, Europe and the US.
A huge team of confidential sources was roped in, trained and given all the required resources after which a systematic effort was made to meet the Spain-based Pakistani brothers, Hameed Chisti and Wahab Chisti.
In February 2014, finally the sources could contact the Chisti brothers and arrange a meeting where the sources met them and a deal for heroin was discussed.
This was followed by another meeting in Barcelona, Spain. All the meetings were recorded by agents of DEA and the sources were wired for this purpose. The Chisti brothers told the sources that they would be interested in supply of heroin but demanded cash payment.
During one of these meetings, one of the sources said that the best heroin one could get was from Pakistan to which the Chisti brothers agreed. As one of the sources in the next meeting pointed out that they did not have a source in Pakistan, one of the Chisti brothers told them that he would get his brother to arrange one.
Hameed Chisti reportedly told the source that he would be travelling to Dubai for a meeting his brother Wahab has arranged with one of their suppliers, who had contacts for smuggling heroin from Afghanistan, and said that it would require the source to visit Dubai to take the deal further.
Hameed Chisti apparently told the source that if he wanted to take the deal to a higher level, he should meet the men who supplied narcotics in bulk.
One of the sources agreed to buy a container full of heroin and asked how it could be smuggled into the US.
The deal also involved the exchange of smuggled heroin with cocaine as in Asian countries, cocaine was smuggled from South America and sold on the streets at a premium. Apparently, Hameed Chisti then told them that he would provide a sample of one kilogram of pure Afghan heroin and it would be delivered by a middleman and the source would have to pay US 35,000 for the same.
This meeting took place in Barcelona, Spain on April 23, 2014.
During this meeting, one of the sources said that he would ship the container with heroin to the Dominican Republic from where his accomplices would route the ship to Puerto Rico and then to New York. He said it to gain the confidence of the Chisti brothers.
On April 28, 2014, the two confidential sources travelled to Dubai to meet another set of sources, who had arranged a meeting with an international arms dealer operating in Asia and Europe.
The sources introduced the two confidential sources to one Danish Ali, also a Pakistani national, and Sohail Kaskar alias Sohail Shaikh at the Dubai meeting. During the meeting, the CS apparently asked Danish Ali and Kaskar if they could help procure IGLAS (Russian made surface-to-air missiles) for their bosses in Columbia.
The source told Kaskar and Ali that the missiles would be needed to protect the cocaine production and manufacturing from the US agencies, which kept snooping on them using aircraft and drones.
Ali reportedly told the source that he could sell three-five missiles any time, but for a bigger order they would have to wait for a legitimate order and once the order was received, they could send empty caskets to the legitimate buyer and send the missiles to the source in Columbia.
The missiles were being procured in the name of 'Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia" (Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia), known as FARC, which has been banned and listed as a terrorist organisation by US government since 1997.
Kaskar and Ali also discussed how they would be transporting the container filled with heroin from Pakistan to New York, what routes would be taken and how, if apprehended by the customs department, or any other agency, the costs will not be borne by the clients.
The meeting was recorded and on May 12, Ali and Kaskar participated in a call with the CS. Ali said that rather than money, they were interested in cocaine from Columbia for the heroin they would send and it could be smuggled from the Caribbean to Africa.
For the missiles, Ali provided his bank account details. This was followed with a telephonic call on May 16, 2014, where Ali and Kaskar told the confidential sources about delivery of the one kilogram sample to Amsterdam in Netherlands.
On May 17, Hameed Chisti spoke to the sources about his travel to Amsterdam for supervising the delivery. On May 20, 2014, the delivery of one kilogram of pure heroin was received by the confidential sources.
A sample was taken for examination and it tested positive — thus proving the charges of narcotics smuggling further.
The US authorities used the ruse of drugs to nab those smuggling it — and those involved in terrorism too. (Source: Reuters)
All the communications, be it in person or over the telephone, had been properly recorded throughout this operation. With the help of DEA's Madrid office and officials from Spain, the Chisti brothers, Danish Ali and Kaskar were arrested in June 2014.
They were extradited to the US in June, where they were tried on the three counts and convicted.
On September 12 this year, the court awarded Danish Ali and Kaskar a sentence amounting to the time they had served in prison since their arrest and extradition in 2015.
But Kaskar and Danish have not been released because India and Pakistan have individually moved a plea for their extradition.
The US DEA meticulously planned and executed the operation where they could get hold of some of the top names running drug cartels and arms supply across continents. The Indian agencies have tried executing similar operations but failed as their own men betrayed them.
Operations to eliminate Dawood Ibrahim: Why India failed
In the year 2005, when the marriage of Dawood Ibrahim's daughter was to take place with Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad’s son Junaid, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had planned an operation.
Dawood Ibrahim's daughter Mahrukh. (Source: India Today)
For complete plausible deniability, the IB had chosen Chhota Rajan's men Farid Tanasha and Vicky Malhotra in case they were caught.
Cricketer Javed Miandad's son Junaid. (Source: India Today)
The plan was to be executed in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai where the grand reception was planned.
National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, who was then the IB director, was apparently briefing Tanasha and Malhotra, when then-DCP Dhananjay Kamlakar, reportedly on orders of his boss, joint commissioner of Mumbai crime branch, Meera Borwankar, allegedly barged into their hotel room.
Apparently, despite Doval's requests and stating that it was an agency operation, Kamlakar was purportedly hell-bent on arresting Rajan’s men Tanasha and Malhotra. This, it is said, led to the failure of one of the most ambitious overseas operations to nab/eliminate the don.
Similarly, another plan made by the Research and Analysis Wing in the late 2000s apparently went awry when trained commandos who had been camping in Karachi to eliminate the don near a dargah were called off at the last minute.
There have been plans but the Indian agencies till date haven't been successful in executing any of them successfully.
If India gets Sohail's custody, a lot could be achieved in terms of information on the operations of the gang within India and overseas.