An Indian citizen living in Nevada, the US, as a permanent resident pleaded guilty on Tuesday to involvement in a foiled terrorist strike in India in late 2013. He has been in detention since his arrest and faces up to 15 years in jail.
Balwinder Singh, 42, purchased two sets of night-vision goggles for a co-conspirator who was to carry out the attack in India as “part of a movement to create an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region”, the US justice department said in a statement.
The plan was to assassinate or maim an Indian governmental official, the department said.“The final target would be determined after the co-conspirator arrived in South Asia.”
Acting assistant attorney general for national security Mary B McCord said, “Singh attempted to provide material support and resources to terrorists to create violence and disruption abroad...Identifying, thwarting and holding accountable individuals who pursue international terrorism is a top priority of the Department of Justice.”
The co-conspirator, who was not identified in the statement, was arrested at San Francisco airport from where he had planned to board a flight for Bangkok, Thailand en route to India. The justice department said he was to travel to South Asia and then India, and not directly. It was not clear where in South Asia. Pakistan has been a staging ground for most such attackers.
Singh, also known as Jhaji, Happy, Possi and Baljit Singh, pleaded guilty before US district judge Larry R Hicks to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. He had been in detention since his arrest on December 17, 2013.
He was charged on December 18, 2013.
According to the justice department, Singh discussed the attack with several co-conspirators, who remained unidentified, over phone between September and December 2013. They “agreed to provide material support by facilitating a co-conspirator’s travel to and within South Asia and providing funding and materials necessary to carry out an overseas attack”.
Singh continued discussing the plans with his co-conspirators even after the arrest of the man who was to carry out the strike, till he himself was arrested.