Two US citizens charged with spying for Pakistan

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai

Syed Fai

American counterintelligence officers have indicted two US citizens of Pakistani origin with trying to influence Congress and the White House on behalf of the government of Pakistan. According to court documents filed on Tuesday by the FBI in Virginia, Zaheer Ahmad (who escaped arrest and may be currently in Pakistan) and Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai acted as unregistered agents of a foreign government (legal terminology for espionage) while operating under the direction of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Both men were leading members of the Kashmiri American Council, a lobby group that propagates Pakistan’s territorial claim to the northwester Indian region of Kashmir. Pakistan and India fought over Kashmir in 1947 and 1967, and have been engaged in constant low-intensity conflict over the territory ever since. The Kashmiri American Council is one of three Kashmir Councils in the West, the other two being in London, UK, and Brussels, Belgium. But the FBI court affidavit claims that the Kashmir Centers are ISI front-organizations, and that the activities of their employees are directed by the ISI. Specifically, the FBI alleges that Fai, who acted as the Council’s director in Washington, routinely coordinated his endeavors with his ISI handlers, usually communicating with them via email. The court documents mention a witness testimony that claims Fai has been an ISI operative for over two decades, and that in recent years he has been receiving between $500,000 and $700,000 per annum from Pakistani intelligence. Much of this money ended up in the pockets of influential American politicians, in the form of campaign donations. Recent examples of such donations by the Kashmiri Council include $7,500 given to Indiana Republican Congressman Dan Burton, as well as $9,500 given to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Fai, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted, denies the espionage charges, as does the Pakistani embassy in Washington, which issued a brief statement to that effect. There are also reports that FBI counterintelligence officials have shared information about the Kashmir Council with Belgian and British authorities, so that more arrests may be expected.

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