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ISI agent Fai expected to plead guilty

ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai, charged with illegally lobbying for Pakistan and its spy agency to influence US policy on Kashmir, is likely to enter into a plea agreement before a US court today.

world Updated: Dec 07, 2011 07:11 IST

ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai, charged with illegally lobbying for Pakistan and its spy agency to influence US policy on Kashmir, is likely to enter into a plea agreement before a US court on Wednesday .

The US Eastern District Court of Virginia on Tuesday scheduled a "plea agreement hearing" in the court of Judge Liam O'Grady.

Fai, who was arrested on spying charges on July 19 and then was put under house arrest later that month, is scheduled to appear before the court at 11 am local time, according to the court documents posted on Tuesday afternoon.

62-year-old Fai, who headed the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council (KAC) was arrested by FBI for allegedly collaborating with Pakistan's spy agency by "clandestinely" funneling hundreds and thousands of dollars to change the view of American lawmakers on Kashmir.

Federal prosecutors in their submission before the court have charged him with working for the ISI and accepting millions of dollars from this spy agency of Pakistan.

"His handlers in Pakistan allegedly funneled millions through the Kashmir Center to contribute to US elected officials, fund high-profile conferences, and pay for other efforts that promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington," US attorney Neil MacBride said in July.

"Mr Fai is accused of a decades-long scheme with one purpose—to hide Pakistan's involvement behind his efforts to influence the US government's position on Kashmir," MacBride alleged.

The affidavit alleges that, although the KAC held itself out to be a Kashmiri organisation run by Kashmiris and financed by Americans, the KAC is one of three "Kashmir Centers" that are actually run by elements of the Pakistani government, including Pakistan's military intelligence service, the ISI.

The two other Kashmir centers are in London, England and Brussels, Belgium.

According to the affidavit, a confidential witness told investigators that he participated in a scheme to obscure the origin of money transferred by Pakistan's ISI to Fai to use as a lobbyist for the KAC in furtherance of Pakistani government interests.

The witness explained that the money was transferred to Fai through Ahmad, an American living in Pakistan.

A second confidential witness told investigators that the ISI created the KAC to propagandise on behalf of the government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir.

This witness said ISI's sponsorship and control of KAC were secret and that ISI had been directing Fai's activities for the past 25 years.

When questioned by the FBI about these relationships in March 2007, Fai had allegedly stated that he had never met anyone who identified himself as being affiliated with the ISI.

In March 2010, the Justice Department sent Fai a letter notifying him of his possible obligation to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.

In his written response to the Justice Department, Fai asserted that neither he nor KAC had ever engaged in any activities for or provided any services to Pakistan or any foreign entity.

In a March 2011 interview with the FBI, Fai again denied having any relationship with anyone in the Pakistani government.

However, after his arrest, Fai acknowledged before FBI agents his relationship with ISI.

The affidavit alleges that Fai has acted at the direction of and with the financial support of the Pakistani government for more than 20 years.

The affidavit alleges that four Pakistani government handlers have directed Fai's US activities and that Fai has been in touch with his handlers more than 4,000 times since June 2008.

Fai's handlers have also allegedly communicated with Ahmad regularly.

For example, the affidavit alleges that Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to his Pakistani government handlers for approval.

One document entitled "Plan of Action of KAC/Kashmir Center for Fiscal Year 2009" laid out Fai's intended strategy to secure US Congressional support in order to encourage the Executive Branch to support self-determination in Kashmir; his strategy to build new alliances in the State Department, the National Security Council, the Congress and the Pentagon, and to expand KAC's media efforts.

Fai and the KAC have received at least $4 million, from the Pakistani government since the mid-1990s through Ahmad and his funding network.

The money is allegedly routed to Fai through Ahmad and a network of other individuals connected to Ahmad.

First Published: Dec 07, 2011 07:09 IST