The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested a 62-year-old US citizen, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who is accused by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) of not informing the US government that he was in the pay of the Pakistan government while lobbying for the Kashmir cause and donating funds to Congressmen.
Fai, who is director of Washington-based NGO Kashmiri American Council (KAC), was arrested on Tuesday morning and is a resident of Fairfax, Virginia. The DoJ, in its statement to the press, said that Fai had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara), and conspired to “falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts he had a duty to disclose in matters within the jurisdiction of Executive Branch agencies of the US government.”
According to witnesses mentioned in an affidavit prepared by the FBI, Fai received thousands of dollars for the KAC over the last two decades. A witness has been quoted as saying that the “ISI created the KAC to propagandise on behalf of the government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir”. The witness also alleged that the ISI has maintained links with Fai for the last 25 years, mentioning a retired brigadier general of the Pakistan Army called “Brigadier Javeed Aziz”, with the nicknames Rathore and Abdullah.
The affidavit also highlights Fai’s response to the DoJ when he was questioned about the KAC last year: “KAC or I have never had written or oral agreements with Pakistan or any other foreign entity.”
Another accused in the case, Zaheer Ahmed, is allegedly at large and according to the DoJ, is believed to be in Pakistan.
The DoJ has accused Fai of receiving up to $4 million from Ahmed and his “network” for KAC, and has been in contact with his handlers over 4,000 times since 2008. According to Neil MacBride, US Attorney for District of Eastern Virginia, “Fai is accused of a decades-long scheme with one purpose – to hide Pakistan’s involvement behind his efforts to influence the US government’s position on Kashmir. His handlers in Pakistan allegedly funneled millions through the Kashmir Center to contribute to US elected officials, fund high-profile conferences, and pay for other efforts that promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington.”
If found guilty, Ahmed and Fai could face up to five years in prison.
A spokesperson for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington said that Fai is “not a Pakistani citizen and the government and embassy of Pakistan have no knowledge of the case involving him.”
The affidavit outlines statements from witnesses detailing transactions where money is referred to in code as “Brylcreem”, correspondence between Ahmed and Fai about KAC and the involvement of alleged ISI representatives. In another instance, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency headquarters is referred to as “the library in Islamabad”.
According to the FBI affidavit, KAC has two branches in London and Brussels. The FBI says that the KAC describes itself as an “NGO dedicated to raising the level of knowledge in the US about the struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.