Pakistan drug money, a port at Koddikarai and the link to the Sri Lanka bombings
New Delhi, Apr 27: Koddikarai, a fishing port in Tamil Nadu was once a hub for Sri Lankan smugglers, who traded beedis for opium.
Over the years, the nature of the smuggling from here changed drastically and it became a landing spot for drugs, arms and ammunition. It may be recalled that in the month of October 2013, India had detained the MV Seaman Guard Ohio after allegations of the ship entering India with a huge cache of weapons had surfaced.
Intelligence and Security Agencies have over the years tracked the operations here and learnt that a major part of the operation was traced near Nagapattinam at the end of the Salt Pan area of the Kodikkarai fishing port.
This route gains significance in the wake of reports emerging that the money earned by drug cartels in Pakistan could have funded the Sri Lanka suicide bombings. Pakistan has for several years now moving drugs to Sri Lanka. Instances of the drugs being moved through Indian ports have also surfaced several times. The drugs make their way from Pakistan right down to the southern part of India, following which it is smuggled into Sri Lanka as well.
It is a well known fact that Pakistan indulges in narco terrorism. An Intelligence Bureau dossier says that the drug industry being aided by the ISI churns out over Rs 380 billion a year through the sale of drugs. A large part of this syndicate is controlled by Dawood Ibrahim.
As per the deal, he had struck with the ISI in exchange for protection, he would need to cough up 30 per cent of his earnings. The ISI in turn uses this money to fund its terrorists. The same money could have been used to carry out the blasts in Sri Lanka, Indian agencies feel.
Coming back to the Koddikarai port, it has not only been used by smugglers and terrorists. A few years back it was found that a major arms racket was being carried out with the help of Chinese agents, who in turn would help the mafia and smugglers settled in Sri Lanka.
Investigations had found that arms and ammunition had also landed in northern Kerala, especially at the Karur and Udumalapet forest areas. The agencies do not rule out the possibility that this was being carried out facilitate the naxalites.
The Pakistan angle to the rise of terror in Sri Lanka has been glaring. Immediately after the fall of the LTTE, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba tried to set up shop in Sri Lanka. However the plans did not materialise immediately.
Following this the ISI roped in Amir Zubair Siddiqui, an officer tasked with setting up a terror module in Sri Lanka. He was instrumental in fanning the sentiments of the Muslims, who complained of a threat from the Buddhists. Siddiqui did manage to fan the sentiments by orchestrating attacks on the Muslims.
He also went ahead and tried creating modules in South India, which would be controlled by a cell in Sri Lanka, which incidentally was set up in the Pakistan High Commission.
It was found that the BBS was funded heavily by the ISI. The BBS was asked to target Muslims, which in turn made them insecure. The ISI under Siddiqui was able to capitalise on this sentiment and began roping the Muslims into their fold.
The NIA which probed this case says that the strength of the module rose from 15 to 50 in quick time. The ISI was successful in radicalising several Muslims in Sri Lanka, which eventually led to the birth of the National Towheed Jamath, which along with the Islamic State is behind the Sri Lanka blasts.
During its probe in 2014, the NIA had sought to question Siddiqui. As the heat built up on him, he was mysteriously air lifted from Sri Lanka and packed off to Pakistan.