The outlaw, the new in-law and a marriage that has shocked Asian society

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There is nothing especially sinister about the groom's family, though they contribute glamour to the occasion. Javed Miandad, the father of the groom, is a Pakistani cricketing legend, a former captain, the highest Test run-scorer the country produced, and the only man from any country to play in all six of the first cricket World Cups.

But his son Junaid is to marry into a family with a murky background. The father of the bride is Dawood Ibrahim, India's most-wanted man, and officially designated by the US as "a global terrorist with links to al-Qa'ida".

Anyone who receives a wedding invitation is being checked by intelligence agencies. Many of Bombay's biggest names have received a mysterious text message on their mobile phones in recent days, which reads: "Your presence is solicited for the auspicious wedding of Mahrukh. For travel arrangements, contact Noorabhai. Regards, D."

It is a typical calling-card from Ibrahim, who named his mafia gang the "D Company". But most say they will not be going because they do not want the police attention it would bring.

In India, Ibrahim is accused of being the mastermind behind simultaneous bombings in Bombay in 1993 in which at least 257 people died, and that now appear to have presaged the tactics of carefully co-ordinated blasts in several areas used in the London and Madrid bombings.

It does not stop there. The US Treasury Department says Ibrahim represents a nexus between al-Qa'ida and the world of organised crime, and he is heavily involved in drug-smuggling to Europe, especially to Britain. It says his smuggling routes "are shared with Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network", and that during the 1990s Ibrahim travelled to Afghanistan with the Taliban's protection.

On 12 March 1993, at 1.30pm, a bomb hidden in a car detonated in the underground car park of the Bombay stock exchange. It was so powerful several nearby buildings were damaged. Fifty died in that explosion alone. But the blackest day in Bombay's history was not over.

Thirty minutes later, the second car bomb exploded. Between 1.30pm and 3.40pm that day 13 bombs detonated around Bombay. Banks, government offices and the Air India office were hit. Most were car bombs, but some were in scooters. Three hotels were hit with bombs in suitcases. Grenades were thrown at the airport. By the end of the day the official death toll was 257, but news reports put it at 317. More than 1,400 were hurt.

It is widely believed that the bombings were committed by Muslims in reaction to Hindu-Muslim riots the year before, in which at least 3,000 people died.

Indian police blamed Dawood Ibrahim. A member of Bombay's native Muslim community, he had spent most of his life in organised crime, and by 1993 he was the city's most powerful mafia don.

Until then, his connections with police and politicians had been enough to protect him from arrest, but after he was named as being behind the bombings, they were not enough. He fled India, taking his entire family with him.

Since then, authorities in India and the US say, he has been living in Karachi. Pakistan denies that he lives there, but newspapers in the country have published detailed reports on Ibrahim's lifestyle in Karachi and his continuing involvement in organised crime.

After the 9/11 attacks, the US became interested in Ibrahim. When the Treasury Department named him as a "global terrorist", it published his telephone number in Karachi. It also released the number of his new Pakistani passport.

All the indications are that Ibrahim simply moved the "D Company" from Bombay to Karachi after the 1993 bombings. There have been few public sightings of him. Which is why police and intelligence agencies will be studying his daughter's wedding celebrations for a glimpse of the man and his associates.

Mr Miandad says the wedding will be today in Dubai. Ibrahim cannot travel to Dubai without risking arrest, because the United Arab Emirates has an extradition treaty with India. Mr Miandad also says there will be a reception in Karachi within days, and that is where all eyes will be on a possible appearance by Ibrahim.

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