Two men, including a suspect from Fairfax, are being charged with acting as agents of Pakistan without disclosing their connection to the South Asian government.
Charged are Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, of Fairfax and Zaheer Ahmad, 63, of Pakistan. They are accused of conspiring to violate the foreign agents registration act, which requires people working for foreign countries to disclose that they are foreign agents.
Fai was arrested Tuesday morning and Ahmed is still at-large and may be in Pakistan. Both men are U.S. citizens.
“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 Neil 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.”
Fai serves as the director of the Kashmiri American Council, a non-governmental organization in D.C. that aims to raise awareness of Kashmiri issues.
Authorities allege that the center is actually run by Pakistan, including the Pakistani intelligence service.
A confidential witness told investigators that Fai and Ahmed helped transfer money through Pakistan’s intelligence agency to the center. When questioned by the FBI in 2007, Fai denied any involvement with the Pakistani government. He denied this again to federal authorities in 2010 and 2011.
But authorities allege that Fai acted as an agent of Pakistan for 20 years and had contact with Pakistani handlers more than 4,000 times since 2008.
After arresting Fai early Tuesday morning at his fairfax home, FBI agents spent the day there searching for more evidence. FBI Assistant Director in Charge James McJunkin said foreign governments who use unregistered foreign agents "threaten our national security."
“Mr. Fai’s alleged conduct illustrates the risk to our fair and open government," McJunkin said. Fai made his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon.
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington told the Associated Press that it knew nothing about the matter.
"Fai is not a Pakistani citizen, and the government and embassy of Pakistan have no knowledge of the case involving him," the embassy said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.