Pak man in Khalistan funds net
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- Published 21.12.06
Washington, Dec. 21: India’s decade-long charge of Pakistani abetment of terrorism in Punjab was vindicated yesterday when a Pakistani living in New York was convicted of raising money for the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF).
Khalid Awan now faces the prospect of a maximum of 45 years in prison for providing material support and resources to terrorists and money laundering to promote terrorism.
He will be formally sentenced on March 7.
Awan was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court of transferring $25,000 to the KCF, which is accused, among other crimes, of the murder of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.
Awan was also found guilty of trying to recruit an inmate during his days in prison, Harjit Singh, as a fighter for the KCF three years ago.
Awan was originally detained as a material witness in a round-up after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US on federal credit card fraud charges.
In jail, he continued his activities in support of the KCF. After meeting fellow inmate Harjit, Awan placed phone calls from jail to KCF chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar, who lives as a fugitive in Pakistan, recommending recruitment of the fellow prisoner.
Awan told Panjwar that after Harjit’s release, he would travel to Lahore to join the terrorist outfit, according to court documents.
Harjit, however, double-crossed Awan and spilled the beans on him to US authorities, telling them of his relationship with the Khalistanis.
Subsequently, the authorities taped Awan’s conversations with Panjwar about the $25,000 for the KCF and about Harjit’s recruitment.
The Indian government actively assisted the US in the trial and an assistant inspector-general in the intelligence division of Punjab police testified at the trial that the KCF was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Indians.
This was one of the cases of extended cooperation between the two countries in securing terrorist conviction in a court of law.
FBI’s assistant director in the New York Field Office, Mark Mershon, said of such cooperation that “to succeed in the war on terror we and our partners around the world have to view support of terrorism anywhere as an affront to peace-loving people everywhere”.
He added that “the security of each of us depends on the determination of all of us to join forces in a truly global effort”, according to a news release from the US attorney’s office in the eastern district of New York.