Credit card companies, banks under terror scanner

Tuesday, 23 September 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: Credit card companies and private banks could be in trouble with the law if their customers are found to be involved in terrorism.

The Mumbai police have asked credit card companies and banks, mainly in the private sector, to shore up their customer verification processes after the accused in last month's twin bomb blasts in this city were found to have held credit cards and bank accounts in fictitious names, officials said.

Police say Abdul Rehman Sayeed Ali Aydeed alias Nasir, the blast mastermind who was shot dead in an encounter earlier this month, had a number of bank accounts and credit cards. Most of these were obtained from banks and credit card companies that had not followed proper authentication procedures.

"Banks are outsourcing credit cards, loans and bank accounts to private agencies which bypass procedures to increase their volumes of business," a senior police official said.

Law enforcement agencies were already concerned after banks complained of bad loans and customers who default on payments. However, investigations in the matter assumed urgency following the terror angle to the business.

Police officials told reporters here that authorities may insist on photo-identification for all credit cards and bank accounts. They are also expected to insist on physical verification of residential addresses and telephone numbers.

Police officials however admit that the easy availability of forged documents like driving licences, university degrees and ration cards would make investigations an uphill task.

The twin car bombs planted at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar on August 25 claimed the lives of 52 people and injured nearly 200.

Four people, including three members of a family, have been charged with setting off the two car bombs in the city.

Police say Syed Mohammed Hanif Abdul Rahim, 45, Fehmida Syed, 37, and their daughter Farheen Syed, 18, and a fourth person, Arshad Shafi Ahmed Ansari, 26, manufactured the bombs in Hanif's shanty.

Police in an encounter killed Nasir, the alleged Lashker-e-Taiba operative who recruited all the bombers earlier this month. Of part Yemeni parentage, he is suspected to have recruited several others in the city as well.

Police suspect that terror cells set up by Nasir may be activated at the behest of his masters in Pakistan to carry out more terror attacks in the city.

Last week, four people said to be in the money laundering businesses were arrested from Thane adjoining Mumbai. The police have also seized some incriminating documents that could lead to more arrests in the coming days.

Source: IANS
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