Ghulam Nabi Fai, the Kashmiri American, brazenly carried out Pakistan’s pro-separatist Kashmir agenda in America’s corridors of power for more than 20 years, influencing lawmakers and officials.
Money kept flowing from the Pakistani government – at least $4 million to date – through handlers and henchmen of ISI, which practically directed Fai’s Kashmiri American Council (KAC) activities right from inception in 1990. The money would be routed through co-accused Zaheer Ahmad, an American citizen based in Pakistan since 1986, and his US-based associates.
Indian circles have all along regarded the KAC as a front for Pakistan. Their only surprise is that Fai managed to escape the long arm of the American law for two decades, despite the mass of evidence now detailed in the FBI’s 44-page court affidavit.
Despite quizzing by the FBI in 2007 over KAC’s relationship with ISI, Fai continued to be his usual brazen self, without any change of his style of functioning. Fai, it has been revealed, has been in touch with his four ISI handlers more than 4,000 times since June 2008.
It now turns out that Fai was stopped by police in New York on June 29 last year and he was found to have in his possession $35,000 in cash. Fai told the police that he had just received the cash from a donor as a contribution to KAC.
The FBI identified Fai’s Pakistani government handlers as “Abdullah”, Javeed Aziz Khan, Touqeer Mehmood Butt and Sohail Mahmood, making their telephone numbers and email IDs public in its affidavit. One of the handlers, Khan, contacted Fai about 2,000 times between 2006 and early this year.
The ISI’s hold on Fai and KAC activities has been detailed in the court document, which discloses that up to 80 per cent of Fai’s public statements are provided by ISI “to repeat and disseminate verbatim”. And the remaining 20 per cent? That consists of Fai’s own ideas “pre-approved by the ISI”.
Fai collected the ISI money, sent by co-accused Zaheer Ahmad, from a number of US associates of the latter, who have all been simply identified by the FBI as Straw Donors B, C, D, E etc. up to L.
What the Pakistan Embassy in Washington has to say about Fai and his nexus with the ISI? Predictable enough. “Fai is not a Pakistani citizen, and the government and embassy of Pakistan have no knowledge of the case involving him,” the embassy told a media outlet.
But the affidavit had some tell-tale evidence about the embassy’s own interactions with Fai. For instance, as recent as January this year, Fozia Bibi, the Third Secretary in the Pakistani Embassy, sent out to Fai a list of 11 media persons and six individuals from think tanks who needed to be cultivated.
And Fai acted with great alacrity in sending back a compliance report within four days about trying to contact the individuals that he did not know as yet. “Between January 29, 2011, and March 7, 2011, Fai contacted four of the six individuals named on the Think Tank list, as well as the peer of a fifth individual, and asked them whether they would be willing to receive a lecture on the Kashmiri conflict from Fai and the KAC board members,” the FBI said in the court document.
According to federal election records, Fai had given $23,500 to US political candidates since 1997. That includes a modest sum of $250 to President Barack Obama’s own election campaign.
Perhaps the highest sum of $7,500 went to Republican Congressman Dan Burton, known to be an India-basher who would bring up the Kashmir issue on Capitol Hill from time to time.
Burton, who has known Fai for 20 years, said in a statement that he had “no inkling of his (Fai’s) involvement with any foreign intelligence operation”, adding: “If there is any doubt about the origin of these contributions, I will donate those funds to the Boy Scouts of America.”
Following his arrest on Tuesday morning, Fai was produced in a court in Alexandria, Virginia. He will appear again on Thursday. Ahmad, his co-accused, is at large in Pakistan.