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Fai pleads guilty to working for ISI

December 08, 2011

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In this May 2007 file photo Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council speaks in Kashmir.—AP Photo

WASHINGTON: A US-based Kashmiri leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of lobbying for Kashmir without registration and spying for the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Mr Fai also acknowledged receiving money from the Pakistani spy agency through clandestine routes and causing revenue losses.

Pleading before the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr Fai conceded that he received at least $3.5 million from the ISI between 1990 and 2011. This resulted in a revenue loss of between $200,000 and $400,000 to the US government.

Mr Fai acknowledged that he was in direct contact with ISI officials, including the head of its security directorate. He conceded receiving talking points and directions from the ISI about the conferences held by the Kashmiri-American Council (KAC), an organisation he headed before his arrest earlier this year.

Mr Fai, 62, has consented to forfeit all four bank accounts in his name or in the name of KAC, totalling about $140,000. He informed the court that the annual budget of the KAC was approved by the lSI.

The court has set March 9 for sentencing Mr Fai but allowed him to stay at home till sentencing because of his good behaviour.

He faces 5 years of imprisonment for unregistered lobbying and 3 years for allegedly lying to the FBI during interrogation.

Mr Fai, who is widely respected in Washington’s official and diplomatic circles, openly lobbied for the Kashmir cause.

Senior US officials, lawmakers and scholars attended the seminars and meetings he held regularly for this purpose. Indian scholars and human rights activists also attended those meetings.

Many in the Pakistani and Kashmiri-American communities believe that Mr Fai is a victim of current US-Pakistan tensions.  A cooperating witness told the FBI that 80 per cent of Mr Fai’s efforts were specifically dictated to him allegedly by the ISI.

When Mr Fai was arrested, the Pakistani embassy said it had no knowledge of any arrangements between Mr Fai and the ISI.