- Syed Fai was director of the Kashmiri American Council
- It was described as an organization promoting increased knowledge of Kashmir
- Court documents say it got money from Pakistan's spy agency
- Fai "lied to the Justice Department, the IRS" and U.S. political leaders, an official says
A Pakistani-American man was sentenced Friday to two years in jail for conspiracy and tax violations while acting as an unregistered lobbyist for Pakistan.
Syed Fai, a 62-year-old U.S. citizen living in a Washington, D.C., suburb, pleaded guilty in December.
Fai served as director of the Kashmiri American Council, which was described as a non-governmental organization financed by Americans with the goal of increasing knowledge about Kashmir.
According to court documents, the group actually got money from officials in the government of Pakistan, including members of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the Pakistani military spy agency commonly known as the ISI. The government said Fai conspired to hide the transfer of at least $3.5 million from the Pakistani government to pay for lobbying in the United States about Kashmir, a region long claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Prosecutors said the ISI not only gave Fai money but also directed the operations of his organization.
"Mr. Fai spent 20 years operating the Kashmiri American Council as a front for Pakistani intelligence," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a written statement. "He lied to the Justice Department, the IRS and many political leaders throughout the United States as he pushed the ISI's propaganda on Kashmir."
Prosecutors say Fai admitted that from 1990 until July of 2011, when he was arrested, he engaged in a conspiracy to get money from the government of Pakistan to fund the Kashmiri American Council in the District of Columbia and made false statements to the government.
"Mr. Fai had a duty to inform the U.S. government of the finances which he received from Pakistan to fund lobbying efforts," said FBI Assistant Director James McJunkin, who heads the bureau's D.C. field office. "Concealed foreign affiliations can be a significant threat to our democracy, and those who engage in hiding these associations will be brought to justice."
Fai made personal contributions to a number of members of Congress between 1998 and 2008. Several members of Congress who had received contributions from Fai immediately made payments for the same amounts to various charities after Fai was arrested and his hidden connection to the government of Pakistan became known.
"I had no inkling of his involvement with any foreign intelligence operation and had presumed our correspondence was legitimate," Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, said at the time. Burton, who had received $7,500 in contributions, said he had known Fai for 20 years and was "deeply shocked."
Federal Election Commission records show Fai gave $9,500 to the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee between 2004 and 2008. He also gave $250 to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and the same amount to the 2000 presidential campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.