A 39-year-old Sikh American man, who received asylum in the US, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the charges of providing material support to Sikh separatist groups planning terrorist attacks in India.
The FBI arrested Balwinder Singh of Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday on the charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to murder or otherwise harm persons in a foreign country and other lesser counts involving immigration records.
Balwinder Singh, also known as Possi, Jhajj, Happy and Baljit Singh, is allegedly linked to terrorist organisations Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF).
"After an extensive investigation, the FBI-led joint terrorism task force (JTTF) of Northern Nevada has disrupted an individual's involvement in facilitation activities in support of a foreign terrorist organisation, targeting an ally of the US," FBI special agent in-charge Laura Bucheit said.
He is scheduled to appear before a US Magistrate Judge on December 20 for an initial appearance and arraignment.
Balwinder, a citizen of India who fled to the US and claimed asylum, is now a permanent US resident.
He has been charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country, one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one count of making a false statement on an immigration document, two counts of use of an immigration document procured by fraud, and one count of unlawful production of an identification document.
If convicted, he faces up to life in prison and fines of up to $250,000 (around Rs 1.6 crore) on each count.
In the indictment, the FBI alleged that the object of the conspiracy was to advance the goals of the BKI and the KZF by raising money and obtaining weapons to support acts of terrorism in India.
It is alleged that the conspiracy began around November 30, 1997, after which Balwinder used a false identity and obtained false identification documents in the US so that he could travel back to India without being apprehended by the Indian authorities.
The indictment alleged that Balwinder communicated with other co-conspirators on the phone while he was in the US to discuss acts of terrorism to be carried out in India.
Balwinder, the indictment alleged, sent money to co-conspirators in India for the purchase of weapons that would be provided to members of the BKI and KZF to support acts of terrorism in India.
It is alleged that he travelled from the US to Pakistan, India, and other countries to meet co-conspirators to assist in the planning of terrorism in India, and provided advice to co-conspirators about how to carry out acts of terrorism.