Ghulam Nabi Fai was trained in intelligence tradecraft by the Pakistani spy agency ISI before he was installed in Washington to 'raise awareness on Kashmiri struggle for self-determination', said sources in Indian security establishments. India always knew that Fai was the biggest asset of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the United States, they said.
According to sources, Fai was much more than an unauthorised lobbyist for the ISI. He was basically an ISI spy, trained in the fine art of intelligence by his handlers before he moved to Washington in the 90s.
"Fai's London based associate Ayub Thakur was also in the same league. We have known since 2003 that their budgetary approvals directly came from the ISI. In case of Thakur, our government informed the British administration but we were told that Thakur is not violating any law in the UK, therefore no action can be taken," said a former security official.
Ayub Thakur died in 2004. The ISI shop in London is now managed by Nazir Ahmad Shawl. He is also under scanner after Fai's arrest.
Fai, 62, was arrested in Washington on charges of acting as an ISI lobbyist without authorisation. He was released on bail on Tuesday, with strict restrictions on his movement. He is the director of Kashmiri American Council, also known as the Kashmir Centre. The Centre, started in 1990, describes itself as an organisation dedicated to raising knowledge about 'Kashmiri struggle'.
Fai and Thakur were from Jammu and Kashmir, which gave an edge to their propaganda against India in Washington and London.
According to sources, other ISI assets didn't have that advantage in these cities as they were mostly from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Indian security officials believe that Fai's arrest is a big warning to the ISI from the US administration to fall in line, otherwise they will target the spy agency where it is most vulnerable.
After his arrest Fai has become almost redundant.