US court set to sentence Ghulam Nabi Fai

Washington: A US court is set to sentence Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai today on charges of illegally working for the Pakistani spy agency ISI to influence American policy on Kashmir.

Sentencing of Fai, 62, is scheduled before a court in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. He 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 had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax violations in connection with a decades-long scheme to conceal the transfer of at least USD 3.5 million from ISI to fund his lobbying efforts in America related to Kashmir.

He faces a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a maximum three years in prison for the tax violation. Meanwhile, the US Justice Department has recommended that Fai be sentenced for 48 months of imprisonment.

In its latest submission before the court of District Judge Liam O`Grady, the US Attorney, Neil H MacBride, said he Fai`s Sentencing Guidelines which ranges 27-33 months fails to reflect the seriousness of the conduct of conviction, because virtually all of it is based solely on the loss to the Internal Revenue Service that resulted from a tax scam that was only ancillary to Fai`s main offence.

"In consideration of all of Fai`s criminal conduct, this Court should impose a sentence of 48 months," MacBride said in his latest submission in which he reiterated his charge of Fai being a liar and his continued suppression of the fact that he was a paid agent of the ISI."

In his March 28 submission, the US attorney opposed Fai`s argument that the seriousness of his offences is substantially mitigated by his "demonstrated remorse." The opposite is true, MacBride asserted.

Referring to a recent letter by Fai to the court, MacBride said it goes into great detail about the history of Kashmir, but none about the history of Fai`s dealings with the ISI. "In fact, nowhere is the ISI even mentioned. Nowhere is any mention of a single lie that Fai made to the American people and Government in the course of innumerable lies over a period of decades.

"His letter surely expresses remorse for allowing the KAC to be exposed as a mouthpiece of the ISI, but it otherwise manifests no remorse for his criminal conduct," he said.

"For more than 20 years, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai operated the Kashmiri American Council (`KAC`) as a front for the Pakistani intelligence service known as the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). By the time that the KAC was incorporated in 1990, Fai already had been working with the ISI for years," the US attorney said.

"For decades, Fai followed the directives of ISI officials, and annually submitted his budgets and plans to ISI officials for approval. For decades, Fai tried to focus the attention of the people and Government of the United States on alleged atrocities and misdeeds by the Government of India – – and away from the involvement of the Government of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere," it said.

The US law, he said, did not purport to bar Fai from carrying water for the ISI. Instead, it only prohibited him from concealing that his actions were underwritten by a foreign intelligence service. Accordingly, the law – the Foreign Agents Registration Act (`FARA`) – simply required Fai to publicly register that he was acting at the behest of a foreign government.

MacBride, said that Fai`s tax scam resulted in a revenue loss of USD 344,150 but was quick to add that this tax scam was only ancillary to a far more significant offense.

The US attorney said Fai`s letter to the court is bereft of any apology to the people of the United States for deceiving them for 20 years with funds from a Pakistani intelligence service, or of any reference to the damage that he caused to the public discourse about the proper course for this country to take with respect to issues involving Pakistan, India, and Kashmir.

"Fai entered contracts with ISI approval, and was reprimanded by his ISI handler when he failed to get such approval in advance. He reported on his activities to the ISI as instructed by the ISI. He submitted his budgets to the ISI for approval, and reduced them when so instructed by the ISI."

"To the contrary, revealing his ISI connection would not have undermined his credibility with the Government of India because he had no credibility with the Government of India; the Indian Government understood that Fai was an agent of Pakistan," the US Attorney said.