Saudi-India growing cooperation: Pakistan's worry?

New Delhi:  Fasih Mohammad, a suspected senior functionary of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, boarded the India-bound Jet Airways flight 9W 567 at King Fahd Airport in Dammam along with his Indian escorts minutes before the take-off. All through the three hour flight, his escorts - mostly from the Delhi Police - kept a hawk's eye on him. Fasih was whisked away by the Delhi Police Special Cell officials minutes after the plane touched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

And, with that, Fasih became the third terror suspect to be deported back to India from Saudi Arabia this year. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia had, in similar manner, sent back A Rayees - a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative - to Mumbai where team officials from Kerala awaited him. Rayees is now being questioned by the Kerala Police. He is wanted in a 2009 case, in which a large quantity of ammonium nitrate was seized.

Earlier, in June 2012, Saudi Arabia handed over Abu Jundal - a 26/11 master mind to India overriding Pakistan's objections. Jundal or Zabiuddin Ansari had taught Hindi to the ten terrorist - including Mohammad Ajmal Kasab - who carried out the attack in Mumbai in 2008. Besides this, Jundal had also passed on instructions to the terrorist during the attack from the Karachi control room.

To prevent India from getting to Jundal, Pakistan had claimed that Jundal was a Pakistani citizen and wanted in Pakistan. However, overriding Pakistan's objections, Saudi Arabia had handed over Jundal.

Describing the cooperation the between Saudi Arabia and India as robust and firmly grounded on the understanding that terrorism will have to be fought jointly, a senior security official said that "Saudi Arabia understands our concerns and has helped us get to three suspects."

Fayaz Kagzi, a suspected LeT terrorist who was spotted in Saudi Arabia, has escaped to Pakistan. The series of the deportations from Saudi Arabia, counter-terror experts feel, sends a clear message to Pakistan and terror groups harboured in Pakistan, that it is no longer safe to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

"It was common practice, that Pakistan-based terrorist would disperse to neighbouring countries to deflect pressure and give Pakistan a level of deniability. The growing understanding and cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia may no longer make that possible," a senior official associated with counter- terrorism told NDTV.

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