A man accused of being an agent for the Pakistani government told federal interrogators that he did take money from Pakistan's notorious Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), a new report finds.
Ghulam Nabi Fai is on house arrest, charged with failing to register as a foreign agent. A new report by ProPublica.org traces Fai's rise as a leading proponent of the disputed Kashmir province, as well as his web of connections that linked to Saudi funding, Pakistani intelligence, and several American Islamic organizations.
After his arrest, Fai told FBI agent Sarah Webb Linden that he had been affiliated with the ISI for 15 years, the story said, pointing to court transcripts. Fai claimed that no one on the board of his Kashmiri American Council (KAC) knew about the ISI connection. Fai also "agreed that the ISI directs him, Mr. Fai, to go to certain conferences and to report on certain people, including some that were mentioned in the criminal complaint," Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said during a bond hearing,
ProPublica's report connects Fai to South Asian extremist organization Jamaat-e-Islami, the imam in charge of Saudi Arabia's most important mosque and holy site, the Ka'aba, Saudi Arabia's King Faisal Foundation and Muslim Brotherhood activists in the United States.
Fai served as president of Muslim Students Association (MSA) chapter while studying at Temple University. Correspondence showed that Fai had already started to work for the ISI while still a student, the FBI revealed in an affidavit.
After earning his doctorate in 1988, Fai became a member of the advisory council for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an umbrella Islamic umbrella group started by Brotherhood members. The ISI then tapped to run the new Kashmiri American Council (KAC) in 1989 to try to influence American politicians on policy toward Kashmir.
Fai was joined by Rafia Syeed, the wife of ISNA founder Sayyid Syeed, and Pakistani accomplice Zaheer Ahmed in creating KAC in April 1990. KAC secured a $20,000 loan from the ISNA-controlled North American Islamic Trust to help get started, ProPublica reported.
Fai spent the next two decades becoming a D.C. power player who hobnobbed with President Clinton, Republican Senator Dan Burton, and scores of other national and international politicians. The complaint against him alleges that he used straw donors who passed along contributions from the ISI.
Officials warned him to register as a foreign agent of Pakistan in March 2010. That June, Fai was pulled over by New York police with $35,000 in cash in his car, and officials doubted his story. FBI agents probed deeper into plans to use ISI money to buy political support for Pakistan's view on Kashmir. Fai denied connections to Pakistani intelligence in interviews with law enforcement.
His lawyers claim that even if he received IS money, Fai called the shots for the KAC. Read the full ProPublica report here.