Fai sentenced to 2 years in jail for illegally working for ISI

Fai sentenced to 2 years in jail for illegally working for ISI

Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai was today sentenced to two years of imprisonment by a court here for "conspiracy to defraud the US" by concealing the transfer of at least USD 3.5 million from Pakistan's ISI to fund his illegal lobbying efforts on Kashmir.

62-year-old Fai's 24 months of jail term will be followed by three years of supervised release.

The judge also asked Fai not to maintain any contact with the officials and agents of the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani spy agency - ISI.

"You participated in a conspiracy to defraud the US and completely deceive the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

"You knew Pakistan and the ISI was paying you in a manner because your actions would be consistent with theirs and you would represent their voice and you were willing to do so," Judge Liam O'Grady of a court in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC, said before announcing the verdict.

The judge also said, "He (Fai) clearly knew, he is being paid...Pakistan has lost wars with India on Kashmir and so Pakistan is looking for other means to achieve its objectives."

Fai was arrested by the FBI on July 19 last year and had subsequently pleaded guilty before the court to the charges of being a paid agent of the ISI.

Fai, who was represented by Nina Ginsberg in the court, also requested the court to allow him to surrender after graduation of his daughter on June 25, a plea which was granted.

After listening from both sides and also for a few minutes from Fai himself, the judge said: "sentencing is necessary" even though he has done "moving things" on behalf of people of Kashmir.

"Mr Fai spent 20 years operating the Kashmiri American Council as a front for Pakistani intelligence," said US Attorney Neil MacBride after the sentencing. 

Fai said he has written 25 articles proposing that the best solution to the Kashmir problem was independence of Kashmir.

Judge commented: "I do not doubt your love for people of Kashmir" and then he went on to pronounce the judgement.

Earlier, the US Justice Department had recommended that Fai be sentenced for 48 months of imprisonment.

He faced a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a maximum three years in prison for the tax violation.

Fai's attorney Nina Ginsberg said that in past 20 years, the federal US agencies intercepted some 350,000 emails and 90,000 telephone calls of Fai.

She also unsuccessfully argued that Fai was also in contact with Indian leaders and officials and some of his views were consistent with the views of the Indian government. "Indian Government sought him out on a regular basis some kind of peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue," she said.

Referring to the more than 50 letters of support in favour of Fai that were submitted to the judge early this week, Ginsberg said many of them are eminent people from India.

One of them, she said, is the great grand son of Mahatma Gandhi. However, Kromberg added, "For long the Indian Government knew that Fai was an agent of Pakistan and the ISI.

"KAC was a fraud, every thing it did in 20 years. This has nothing to do with Kashmir cause."

Kromberg in his final argument said that Kashmiri American Council (KAC) was one of the three ISI funded outfit -- the other two being in London and Brussels.

The Judge said, "You (Fai) were willing to defraud the IRS, willing to be allowed being given money by the Straw Donors to fund the Kashmir American Council -- to cover up the source of your funding and to engage with the Pakistani intelligence agency." 

Fai served as the director of KAC, an NGO in Washington which claims to be run by Kashmiris, financed by Americans, and dedicated to raising the level of knowledge in US about the Kashmir issue.

But according to court documents filed with his plea agreement, KAC was secretly funded by officials employed by the government of Pakistan, including the ISI.

Fai admitted in court that, from 1990 until about July 18, 2011, he conspired with others to obtain money from officials employed by the government of Pakistan, including the ISI, for the operation of the KAC in US, and that he did so outside the knowledge of the US government and without attracting the attention of law enforcement and regulatory authorities.

To prevent the Justice Department, FBI, Department of Treasury and the IRS from learning the source of the money he received from officials employed by the government of Pakistan and the ISI, Fai made a series of false statements and representations, according to court documents.

For example, Fai told FBI agents in March 2007 that he had never met anyone who identified himself as being affiliated with the ISI and, in May 2009, he falsely denied to the IRS on a tax return for the KAC that it had received any money from foreign sources in 2008.

In addition, according to court documents, Fai sent a letter in April 2010 to the Justice Department falsely asserting that the KAC was not funded by the government of Pakistan.

Later that year, Fai falsely denied to the IRS that the KAC had received any money from foreign sources in 2009.

In July 2011, Fai falsely denied to FBI agents that he or the KAC received money from the ISI or government of Pakistan.

In fact, Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to Pakistani government officials for approval, the documents said.

Fai also admitted that, from 1990 until about July 18, 2011, he corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws by arranging for the transfer of at least USD 3.5 million to the KAC from employees of the government of Pakistan and the ISI.

According to court documents, Fai accepted the transfer of such money to the KAC from the ISI and the government of Pakistan through his co-defendant Zaheer Ahmad and middlemen (straw donors), who received reimbursement from Ahmad for their purported "donations" to the KAC.

Fai provided letters from the KAC to the straw donors documenting that their purported "donations" to the KAC were tax deductible and encouraged these donors to deduct the transfers as "charitable" deductions on their personal tax returns.

Fai concealed from the IRS that the straw donors' purported KAC "donations" were reimbursed by Ahmad, using funds received from ISI and the government of Pakistan. 

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