More details are trickling out about the money men.
A Pakistani money transfer agent in the northern Italian city of Brescia has denied any involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks which killed 173 people last November. Mohammed Yaqub Janjua is the owner of the Madina Trading telephone centre and Western Union branch which was allegedly used by a collaborator linked to the attacks. Yaqub was referring to Javed Iqbal, a 46 year-old Pakistani national, who was recently arrested in Pakistan for allegedly being one of the main conspirators behind the Mumbai attacks.
According to media reports, Iqbal, a resident of the Spanish city of Barcelona, is alleged to have travelled to Brescia and transferred 238 dollars to a US address in the state of New Jersey, in the name of Nizar al-Sharif. From there it was allegedly used to buy five telephones, three of which were used in the Mumbai bombings.
According to a report in The Times of India, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that the handlers used VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling platforms registered in the US, as well as numbers with an Austrian prefix. Reports also said the US number was used to route calls to terrorists in India.
The FBI said the US number was set up through a US telecom company called Callphonex, which facilitates Internet VOIP calls. The account with Callphonex was allegedly set-up by a man called Kharak Singh, who claimed to be of Indian nationality. However, an individual named Mohammed Ashfaq is said to have activated the account after a moneygram was transferred under his name. The payment was made from Yaqoub's agency in Brescia.
When questioned about his security standards at his money transfer agency and how it was possible that Iqbal sent the money using a fake passport, Yaqub told AKI that the Pakistani suspect fulfilled the requirements to send money through his agency.
"At least 30 people come and go every day to send money, this is not a question of security," Yaqub said. "I don't know how to tell the difference between a real or fake passport. I just saw a Pakistani passport, it was old because I know now they have new ones, and also, if the document is not valid, the system does not allow me to send the money."
However, he also told AKI that in order to send money, the only thing that was required was an official document such as an Italian identity card, permit of stay, or foreign passport, and an address in Italy, which Iqbal provided. "The man gave me an original passport as far as I'm concerned and provided me with an address here in Brescia, Via Milano 125. If an Englishman came to send money, and he gave me his passport and address of the hotel where he was staying, then he too could send money," said Yaqub.
Yaqub, who has been running the agency for more than 10 years, said he would never have suspected that Iqbal was involved in the Mumbai bombings. He also told AKI that his business was routinely checked by Italy's finance police and they had never found any problems. "There are so many Javid Iqbals in Pakistan and here in this country. If a person comes to send money, I only see this, but I don't know his intentions, especially when he only sent such a small amount (229 dollars), we don't ask him 'What will you do with the money?" he said.