Why haven’t they investigated CAIR? via the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Two Charged with Conspiring to Act as Unregistered Agents of Pakistani Government
WASHINGTON—Two individuals have been charged with participating in a long-term conspiracy to act as agents of the Pakistani government in the United States without disclosing their affiliation with the Pakistani government as required by law.
Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a U.S. citizen and resident of Fairfax, Va., and Zaheer Ahmad, 63, a U.S. citizen and resident of Pakistan, are charged in a one-count criminal complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia. The complaint alleges that the defendants have conspired to: 1) act as an agent of a foreign principal without registering with the Attorney General in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); and 2) falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts they had a duty to disclose in matters within the jurisdiction of Executive Branch agencies of the U.S. government.
Fai was arrested this morning. Ahmad remains at large and is believed to be in Pakistan. Both face a potential sentence of five years in prison if convicted.
“Mr. Fai is accused of a decades-long scheme with one purpose—to hide Pakistan’s involvement behind his efforts to influence the U.S. government’s position on Kashmir,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “His handlers in Pakistan allegedly funneled millions through the Kashmir Center to contribute to U.S. elected officials, fund high-profile conferences, and pay for other efforts that promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington.”
“Foreign governments who try to influence the United States by using unregistered agents threaten our national security,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Mr. Fai’s alleged conduct illustrates the risk to our fair and open government. The charges underscore the dedication of special agents who enforce laws—like the FARA violations charged here—that are designed to detect and defeat those who attempt to surreptitiously exert foreign influence on our government by using agents who conceal their foreign affiliations.”
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Fai serves as the director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), a non-governmental organization located in Washington, D.C., that was founded in 1990 and also goes by the name “Kashmir Center.” The KAC describes itself in educational materials as a “not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of knowledge in the United States about the struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.”
The affidavit alleges that, although the KAC held itself out to be a Kashmiri organization 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 Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). The two other Kashmir Centers are in London, England and Brussels, Belgium.
“FARA is designed to ensure that the U.S. government and American public know the underlying source of information and identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. policy and laws. The defendants are accused of thwarting this process by concealing the fact that a foreign government was funding and directing their lobbying and public relations efforts in America,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.
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 U.S. 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.
Pakistan is a master of the double game. Paying “charities” to infiltrate government in the West, and paying terrorists to wage jihad in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear if this indictment shows that the DOJ is taking FARA enforcement more seriously. The investigation into Fai and Ahmad involved informants and intercepted electronic communications and had been going on since 2005, which demonstrates that a lot of resources were put into this case.
In most cases, DOJ only prosecutes under FARA for “willful noncompliance.” In other words, if an agent of foreign principal is informed that they should register yet they refuse, only then are they subject to prosecution. Citing a law enforcement official, ProPublica noted that prosecutions “don’t happen very often. The government generally works to get someone into compliance rather than charging.” In this case, it appears that DOJ repeatedly asked Fai to file under FARA and he refused.
But it is clear that FARA has garnered a fair amount of attention in recent years. Somewhat reminiscent of the current case involving Pakistani-Americans and Pakistan’s intelligence service, the relatively obscure statute made news last year following the arrest of ten suspected Russian spies on charges that they were operating in violation of FARA. As POGO’s Nick Schwellenbach pointed out at the time, “some speculate that U.S. prosecutors charged the Russians with failure to register—rather than the more difficult-to-prove charge of espionage—because the government lacks evidence that the Russians transmitted sensitive information.”
But suspected spies are just one slice of FARA. More recently, FARA made headlines following disclosures that a number of private firms performed undisclosed public relations work for Libya. One of those firms, the Monitor Group, retroactively filed disclosures following a public outcry caused by the leak of some its plans by a Libyan opposition group. And more recently, a firm called Brown Lloyd James made news for its own disclosures under FARA that it helped boost the public image of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi while working for an oil executive with business interests in the country.
The attention garnered by those disclosures made under FARA illustrate how effective a statute simply requiring disclosure can be. We can only hope that DOJ has realized that enforcing FARA can help clean up our politics by ensuring that activities to influence the political process are conducted in the full light of transparency.
We posted on the Libya PR op in Libya recruited brother of U.S. intel chief, media to help Gadhafi’s image in U.S.