There is “no information” about raids on Dawood Ibrahim’s properties in the UAE, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said, dismissing reports, quoted widely, about operations by UAE officials on ₹15,000 crore worth of assets belonging to the underworld don and 1993 Mumbai blasts case fugitive.
“I heard about the reports, but with all respect to the media (that reported the story), I have no information about such raids taking place,” Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna told The Hindu weeks after the reports were hailed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a “major diplomatic success” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had “demanded action” against Dawood Ibrahim, during his visit to Abu Dhabi in 2015.
Although the claim from the ruling party was not endorsed by the government, the BJP’s official Twitter handle has not deleted its post of January 4 that referred to the alleged raids as a result of the Prime Minister’s “masterstroke diplomacy”.
While discounting the reports, the Ambassador said the UAE is working to “eliminate” all illegal terror organisations, and will discuss counter terrorism moves at the first India-UAE Strategic Dialogue to be held on January 20 in Delhi.
The dialogue is expected to finalise the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between India and the UAE which will be signed when Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan meets Mr. Modi on January 25.
“We work very closely with Indian authorities on this, even to minimise the movement of some of the cells and the sleeping cells of [terrorist] organisations,” Ambassador Al Banna said, referring to current cooperation on ISIS, and other groups.
“I think we are beyond that stage,” Mr. Al-Banna said, when asked about relations with Pakistani military and ISI, which has in the past trained troops in the Emirates, impacting ties with India.
“Our relationship with India is special, and is not impacted by our relationship with any other country,” he added.
India and UAE are also expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, where five UAE diplomats were among 11 persons killed in an attack at a guest house in Kandahar last week.
On Monday, President Ghani, who spoke with Pakistan Army chief General Bajwa, said groups in Pakistan were responsible for the attack.
“Perpetrators who planned the attack are living in Pakistan and they conduct their activities there freely and no action so far had been taken against them,” Mr. Ghani was quoted as saying in a press release from the President’s office.
Asked if the UAE would join India and Afghanistan in raising the issue of safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, however, the Ambassador signalled caution.
“We don’t want to jump to any conclusion. The inquiry is on and we will wait for the outcome of the report. And who will be responsible will be implicated,” Mr. Al Banna said.
(The full transcript of the interview is available online at http://bit.ly/DawoodRaids )