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Pakistan's ISI using crime syndicates in France, Thailand to further its agenda

News Agencies | Updated on: 23 August 2020, 13:32 IST

Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, has been using the services of Pakistani crime syndicates operating in several countries, including France and Thailand, to further its agenda, according to a report in the Global Watch Analysis.

Recently, Thailand Police arrested a Pakistan national named Baqar Shah for his involvement in multiple illegal activities in the country including money laundering for the ISI.

He was first noticed by Thai authorities due to his involvement in organising an anti-American protest outside the US Consulate in Chiang Mai in September 2012. In February 2016, his name again surfaced when Thailand Police busted a major fake passport syndicate in the country and an Iranian national, Hamid Reza Jafary, and five Pakistanis were arrested.

The six of them were found to be involved in the supply of fake travel documents and human trafficking. It is to be noted that Jafary was on the wanted list of security agencies in several countries including the UK, France, Australia and New Zealand.

According to investigations, Jafary and his five Pakistani contacts were supplying forged passports that were being sold to people from Gulf countries for travel to Australia and Europe. During the probe, it was found that Gohar Zaman, one of the five Pakistanis in custody, had close links to Shah.

As the Thai security agency put Shah under close surveillance, they discovered that he maintained regular contact with officials from Pakistan Embassy in Bangkok and his restaurant was being used as a meeting point for Pakistani officials.

"Shah's main job appeared to be spotting potential assets for Pakistanis in the local police, immigration, customs and airlines and to develop contacts within the Muslim community in Chaing Mai and Mae Sot region," according to the report.

Shah was blacklisted by the Thai immigration for five years and deported to Pakistan in 2018. However, he managed to sneak back into Thailand under the guise of ISI mentors on a fresh passport in the name of Syed Baqar Ahmed Jaffri. However, Thailand Police tracked him down again and he is currently in custody.

A similar syndicate, pertaining to the supply of forged passports, is reported to be operational in France. A person with the initials B.H., who is controlling the syndicate, is believed to have connections at the Pakistani Embassy in Paris.

Citing sources, Global Watch Analysis reported that a Pakistani restaurant situated near Gare du Nord, the office of a welfare association in La Courneuve area and a travel agency in the 10th arrondissement in the Paris, are used as fronts to run the illegal activities of supplying Pakistani passports and resident permits of European countries including Portugal, Belgium and France.

The price for these identity cards and travel documents range between 850 to 1,500 Euros.

During investigations by the Global Watch Analysis, for instance, copies of fake travel documents held by a person linked to this network were found. The individual, who is based in France, has several British and Pakistani passports, all under different names.

Sources said the multiple passports would have enabled the person to hold several bank accounts and credit cards with French banks.

It is well known that ISI has links with several terror groups of "jihadist tendency". "It is not excluded that these type of criminal networks, manipulated by ISI's branches in the Western capitals, may provide their 'services' to members of the terrorist groups in question infiltrated in the West," the article concluded.


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First published: 23 August 2020, 13:32 IST