Dr Fai detained by FBI
US Accuses Islamabad Of Funding KAC
Washington, July 20: Executive Director of the US-based Kashmir American Council, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai was arrested by FBI in Washington on the eve of Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Delhi.
US Justice Department officials said the FBI has arrested Dr Fai (62), a US citizen on Tuesday “over a decade-long effort to push the Kashmiri cause in Washington with Pakistani funding.” The Justice Department said he faced up to five years in prison if found guilty.
KAC, based in Washington and headed by Dr Fai, is “actually run” by elements of the Pakistani government, the Justice Department alleged in a statement.
“Foreign governments who try to influence the United States by using unregistered agents threaten our national security,” alleged FBI Assistant Director in Charge James McJunkin.
Dr Fai, and another man, Zaheer Ahmad - both US citizens - were charged with conspiracy, saying they lobbied the US government without disclosing the fact that they were being funded by the Pakistani government, including its spy agency ISI.
While, Fai was arrested on Tuesday outside Washington, Zaheer is believed to be in Pakistan, according to reports. Dr Fai, appeared before a federal magistrate, who ordered him jailed until a detention hearing Thursday afternoon.
US Department of Justice alleges that Dr Fai’s handlers in Pakistan allegedly funnelled millions of dollars through the Council to promote the Kashmiri cause among US politicians and other decision-makers in Washington.
US officials say Dr Fai has received at least $4 million from the Pakistani government since the 1990’s through Zaheer (63) and his funding network in Pakistan. “I believe that Fai has received approximately $500,000 to $700,000 per year from the government of Pakistan,” FBI agent Sarah Webb Linden said in documents filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Officially, KAC had a much smaller budget and told the US government that it received no foreign grants, according to Internal Revenue Service documents.
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington quickly issued a statement saying the government had no knowledge of such an arrangement.
The Pakistani ISI has of late developed a complicated relationship with US intelligence following the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Bin Laden at Abbotabad near Islamabad.
But the news of Fai’s arrest came after reports that Pakistan has approved all 87 visas to CIA personnel as required in an understanding to renew cooperation between the ISI and the CIA, clearing the way for greater cooperation between the two agencies.
Though Fai’s charges are not related to espionage, the arrest adds another strain to the already difficult relationship between the US and Pakistan.
Fai is perhaps best known in Washington for organizing the annual Kashmir Peace Conference at the Congress. The event is billed as an independent forum for Indian and Pakistani voices, but the Justice Department alleges the Pakistani government approved the speakers and gave Fai talking points to highlight.
“Dr Fai and the Kashmiri freedom movement have nothing to do with the ISI,” said Nadim Malik, a close associate of Fai and the executive director of the advocacy group Kashmir Mission USA.
“Fai has donated to congressional campaigns of both parties for years. His donations include $250 to President Barack Obama in 2008; a total of $4,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004 and 2008; and $250 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2009,” he said.
Zahid Bukhari, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America who says he has known Fai for years and used to teach at Georgetown University, said he found the accusations stunning.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bukhari said. “He’s dedicated his whole life on that cause.”
The political leadership of Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir have condemned the arrest of Dr Fai.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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