Pakistani from NY guilty of funding Sikh militants
Khalid Awan was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court of transferring $25,000 and trying to recruit Harjit Singh.india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 04:38 IST
A Pakistani man living in New York was found guilty on Wednesday of wiring money and trying to send a foot soldier to a Sikh militant separatist group opposed to the Indian government.
Khalid Awan was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court of transferring $25,000 and trying to recruit Harjit Singh, a former fellow prison inmate, to the Khalistan Commando Force in 2003.
Awan faces a maximum of 45 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 7. He was found guilty of all counts he faced, including providing material support or resources to terrorists and money laundering to promote terrorism.
Awan was detained on federal credit card fraud charges as a material witness shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Inside prison he met Singh, who federal authorities say he introduced to Khalistan Commando Force leader Paramjit Singh Panjwar through phone calls placed from the prison - in the hopes that after Singh's release he would travel to Lahore, Pakistan, to join the group.
But Singh turned on Awan, telling federal authorities of his relationship with Panjwar, and Awan was soon being taped talking to the militant leader on the telephone about the $25,000 and Singh's future.
The militant group, formed in 1986, is made up of Sikhs who have tried to violently force India into letting them form their own state of Punjab.
Aside from hundreds of bombings, acts of sabotage and kidnappings committed against the Indian government, the group is responsible for the murder of Chief Minister Beant Singh of Punjab in 1995, according to the US Justice Department.