FBI ar­rests Vir­ginia man as agent of Pak­istan

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY JERRY SEPER

A Vir­ginia man was ar­rested July 19 by FBI agents in a sus­pected in­flu­ence-ped­dling scheme to fun­nel mil­lions of dol­lars from the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing its mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, to U.S. elected of­fi­cials to help drive In­dia out of the dis­puted Kashmir ter­ri­tory in South Asia.

Syed Ghu­lam Nabi Fai, 62, a U.S. cit­i­zen and res­i­dent of Fair­fax, was charged with par­tic­i­pat­ing in a long-term con­spir­acy to se­cretly act as an agent of the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment in the U.S. with­out dis­clos­ing that af­fil­i­a­tion as re­quired by law.

Mr. Fai, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Kash­miri Amer­i­can Coun­cil (KAC) in Wash­ing­ton, is ac­cused of sub­mit­ting an­nual strat­egy re­ports and bud­getary re­quire­ments to his Pak­istani gov­ern­ment han­dlers to se­cure U.S. con­gres­sional sup­port to en­cour­age the ex­ec­u­tive branch to sup­port “self-de­ter­mi­na­tion” in Kashmir.

Ac­cord­ing to an FBI af­fi­davit, he re­ceived “ap­prox­i­mately $500,000 to $700,000 per year from the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan” for con­tri­bu­tions to mem­bers of Congress. But the Jus­tice Depart­ment said there was no ev­i­dence to show that any of the elected of­fi­cials who re­ceived the do­na­tions were aware the money orig­i­nated from the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment.

A fed­eral mag­is­trate judge or­dered Mr. Fai held un­til a de­ten­tion hear­ing. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Gor­don Kromberg said Mr. Fai faces up to five years in prison if con­victed.

While none of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the do­na­tions was iden­ti­fied, Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (FEC) records show that both Democrats and Repub­li­cans were the re­cip­i­ents of con­tri­bu­tions from Mr. Fai and the KAC. The largest do­na­tions were $9,500 to the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee (NRSC) and $7,500 to Rep. Dan Bur­ton, In­di­ana Repub­li­can.

“I am deeply shocked by Dr. Fai’s ar­rest,” Mr. Bur­ton said. “I’ve known Dr. Fai for 20 years and in that time I had no inkling of his in­volve­ment with any for­eign in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion and had pre­sumed our cor­re­spon­dence was le­git­i­mate.

“For as long as I’ve known him, Dr. Fai has been ei­ther a per­ma­nent legal res­i­dent of the United States or a cit­i­zen and as such any po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions I may have re­ceived from Dr. Fai over the years are com­pletely legal,” he said. “How­ever, if there is any doubt about the ori­gin of these con­tri­bu­tions, I will do­nate those funds to the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica.”

Brian Walsh, a spokesman at the NRSC, said while the Fai do­na­tions pre­dated the com­mit­tee’s cur­rent lead­er­ship, the ac­cu­sa­tions were “very dis­turb­ing” and the com­mit­tee would co­op­er­ate in any on­go­ing probe.

Al­though the charges do not in­clude ac­cu­sa­tions of es­pi­onage, they come at a time of strained re­la­tion­ships be­tween the U.S. and Pak­istan, in­clud­ing a re­cent with­hold­ing of U.S. aid to Islamabad. A Navy SEAL team in May found and killed Osama bin Laden in a town dom­i­nated by the Pak­istani mil­i­tary, re­viv­ing charges of of­fi­cial Pak­istani com­plic­ity with al Qaeda and other Is­lamist ter­ror­ist groups.

The Pak­istani Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton, in a state­ment, said: “Fai is not a Pak­istani cit­i­zen, and the gov­ern­ment and em­bassy of Pak­istan have no knowl­edge of the case in­volv­ing him.”

Tele­phone calls to the KAC went unan­swered.

Also named in the sus­pected scheme is Za­heer Ah­mad, 63, a U.S. cit­i­zen who lives in Pak­istan and is now con­sid­ered a fugi­tive. He is ac­cused of re­cruit­ing “straw donors” to con­trib­ute to the KAC, whose true source was the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment.

Mr. Fai and Mr. Ah­mad were named in a one-count crim­i­nal com­plaint say­ing they con­spired to act as an agent of a for­eign gov­ern­ment with­out reg­is­ter­ing with the at­tor­ney gen­eral in vi­o­la­tion of the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act (FARA) and to fal­sify, con­ceal and cover up in­for­ma­tion they had a duty to dis­close.

“Mr. Fai is ac­cused of a decades-long scheme with one pur­pose, to hide Pak­istan’s in­volve­ment be­hind his ef­forts to in­flu­ence the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion on Kashmir,” said U.S. At­tor­ney Neil MacBride in Vir­ginia. “His han­dlers in Pak­istan al­legedly fun­neled mil­lions through the Kashmir Cen­ter to con­trib­ute to U.S. elected of­fi­cials, fund high-pro­file con­fer­ences and pay for other ef­forts that pro­moted the Kash­miri cause to de­ci­sion-mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton.”

Ac­cord­ing to the FBI af­fi­davit, the KAC, also known as the “Kashmir Cen­ter,” calls it­self a “not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to rais­ing the level of knowl­edge in the United States about the strug­gle of the Kash­miri peo­ple for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

Al­though the KAC held it­self out to be a Kash­miri or­ga­ni­za­tion run by Kash­miris and fi­nanced by Amer­i­cans, the af­fi­davit said it is one of three “Kashmir Cen­ters” that ac­tu­ally are run by el­e­ments of the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence Agency (ISI). The oth­ers are in Lon­don and Brus­sels.

Some of the charges of Pak­istani sup­port for terrorism cen­ter on the ISI and Lashkar-eTaiba, an of­fi­cially banned ji­had group that launches ter­ror­ist at­tacks against In­dia over the Kashmir dis­pute. The ter­ror­ist group planned and ex­e­cuted from Pak­istan, re­port­edly with aid from the ISI, the 2008 Mum­bai at­tacks that killed more than 160 peo­ple.

The KAC told the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice that it re­ceived no for­eign grants, ac­cord­ing to IRS records.

But a con­fi­den­tial wit­ness told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he par­tic­i­pated in a scheme to ob­scure the ori­gin of money trans­ferred by Pak­istan’s ISI to Mr. Fai to use as a lob­by­ist for the KAC in fur­ther­ance of Pak­istani gov­ern­ment in­ter­ests, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. It also said the wit­ness said the money was trans­ferred to Mr. Fai through Mr. Ah­mad.

A sec­ond con­fi­den­tial wit­ness told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the ISI cre­ated the KAC to pro­pa­gan­dize on be­half of the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan with the goal of unit­ing Kashmir. The af­fi­davit said the sec­ond wit­ness said ISI’s spon­sor­ship and con­trol of KAC were se­cret and ISI had been di­rect­ing Mr. Fai’s ac­tiv­i­ties for the past 25 years.

When ques­tioned by the FBI about his re­la­tion­ships in March 2007, the af­fi­davit said Mr. Fai said he had never met any­one who iden­ti­fied him­self as be­ing af­fil­i­ated with the ISI.

In March 2010, the Jus­tice Depart­ment sent Mr. Fai a letter no­ti­fy­ing him of his pos­si­ble obli­ga­tion to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent with the depart­ment through the FARA.

In his writ­ten re­sponse to Jus­tice, Mr. Fai as­serted that nei­ther he nor the KAC had ever en­gaged in any ac­tiv­i­ties for or pro­vided any ser­vices to Pak­istan or any for­eign en­tity. In a March in­ter­view with the FBI, Mr. Fai again de­nied hav­ing any re­la­tion­ship with any­one in the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment.

“FARA is de­signed to en­sure that the U.S. gov­ern­ment and Amer­i­can pub­lic know the un­der­ly­ing source of in­for­ma­tion and iden­tity of per­sons at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence U.S. pol­icy and laws,” said Lisa Monaco, as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for na­tional se­cu­rity. “The de­fen­dants are ac­cused of thwart­ing this process by con­ceal­ing the fact that a for­eign gov­ern­ment was fund­ing and di­rect­ing their lob­by­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions ef­forts in Amer­ica.”

Ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit, four Pak­istani gov­ern­ment han­dlers di­rected Mr. Fai’s U.S. ac­tiv­i­ties and he had been in touch with his han­dlers more than 4,000 times since June 2008.

“For­eign gov­ern­ments who try to in­flu­ence the United States by us­ing un­reg­is­tered agents threaten our na­tional se­cu­rity,” said James McJunkin, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor in charge of the FBI’s Wash­ing­ton field of­fice. “The charges un­der­score the ded­i­ca­tion of spe­cial agents who en­force laws, like the FARA vi­o­la­tions charged here, that are de­signed to de­tect and de­feat those who at­tempt to sur­rep­ti­tiously ex­ert for­eign in­flu­ence on our gov­ern­ment by us­ing agents who con­ceal their for­eign af­fil­i­a­tions.”

Kashmir is a dis­puted bor­der area claimed by both In­dia and Pak­istan. It was split af­ter Bri­tish rule ended in 1947. In­dia and Pak­istan have fought two wars over the re­gion.

As KAC’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Mr. Fai wrote five opin­ion pieces on the Kashmir sit­u­a­tion for The Wash­ing­ton Times be­tween April 1992 and Jan­uary 2001.

In ad­di­tion to Mr. Kromberg, the case is be­ing pros­e­cuted by As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Daniel Grooms, both of the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the East­ern District of Vir­ginia, and trial at­tor­ney John Gibbs of the Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Sec­tion of the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Divi­sion.

BAR­BARA L. SAL­IS­BURY/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

Reg­u­lar Amer­i­can guy? Syed Ghu­lam Nabi Fai lives in this house in Fair fax, Va. He is charged with par tic­i­pat­ing in a long-term con­spir­acy to se­cretly act as an agent of the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment in the U.S. with­out dis­clos­ing that af­fil­i­a­tion, as re­quired by the fed­eral For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act. He is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Kash­miri Amer­i­can Coun­cil.

”I am deeply shocked by Dr. Fai’s ar­rest. I’ve known Dr. Fai for 20 years and in that time I had no inkling of his in­volve­ment with any for­eign in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion and had pre­sumed our cor­re­spon­dence was le­git­i­mate.” Rep. Dan Bur­ton, In­di­ana Repub­li­can

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