Friday, December 18, 2009

Investigators probe link of Taliban with bank heist

KARACHI: The main suspect in the country’s biggest bank robbery used the identity card of another person to get the job of a guard in a security company.

Five men led by a security guard had robbed the I.I. Chundrigar Road branch of Allied Bank of foreign currency equivalent to Rs311.2 million on Sunday morning.

After the robbery, police got hold of the file of the guard, Shahid Mehmood, and his fake CNIC, original photograph and copies of the CNIC of his guarantors were taken into possession.

Particulars on the CNIC misled police into thinking that the man was from Faisalabad.

On Monday, when police reached the Faisalabad address, mentioned on the CNIC, it transpired that Shahid Mehmood ran a canteen at a commercial centre in Qayyumabad area near DHA in Karachi.

A senior police officer told Dawn that the main suspect had used the CNIC of Shahid Mehmood to get a job in the security company.

‘He didn’t even replace the picture of Shahid Mehmood with that of his own. However, he had submitted his own photograph along with the copy of the CNIC at the company,’ the officer said.

Similarly, the photocopies of the CNIC of the two guarantors were attached by the main suspect in his job application and the guarantors were questioned by police on Monday.

It emerged that the two didn’t know the suspect and he had misused the copies of their CNIC.

However, it has been established that the unnamed ‘main suspect’ belongs to Peshawar, prompting police to include the possibility of Taliban linkage, an investigator told Dawn.

An injection of Rs311 million in the terror network would add to the capacity of Taliban to continue their attacks across the country, an investigator remarked. Such a huge amount of cash cannot be taken home by someone for personal use.

Meanwhile, Karachi police have been instructed to check the offices of private security agencies and report any irregularity to higher authorities.

CCPO Waseem Ahmed issued orders to SPs of all towns to check the record of the companies which have offices in their jurisdiction.

Police have also requested the Home Department that punishment for offences committed by security companies should be increased to jail terms of three years (from two years) and the amount of fine to Rs200,000 to Rs50,000.

Sources said that a police team headed by a senior officer had been sent to Peshawar to trace the whereabouts of the main suspect with the help of local police.

About a dozen bank robberies took place in Karachi in 2009, but none matched the latest one in precision and planning.

The last major heist in the country took place in 2007 when two security guards robbed Rs160 million from a foreign exchange company in Karachi.

Several recent bank robberies in Karachi have been traced to the Taliban.

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