But court and campaign records leave many questions unanswered, including precisely how much money may have been funneled to U.S. politicians by the ISI.
Financial records cited by the FBI suggest the Kashmir council budgeted up to $100,000 a year just for political contributions, many of which were allegedly dispersed through a network of pro-Pakistan advocates with U.S. residency or citizenship. So-called straw donors — who would be reimbursed by the ISI — were also used to fund the activities of the Kashmir council, according to the FBI affidavit.
Several of the council’s board members have given donations to Burton and other members of Congress, according to FEC and tax records. They did not respond to phone messages left at their homes or offices Wednesday.
In Islamabad, there was no official reaction from the Pakistani government or military, of which the ISI is a part. The chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, referred questions to the foreign ministry, which did not respond to several calls. Abbas said he had no information about the military officials named in the FBI affidavit as Fai’s handlers over the years.
“The retired people, really, are out of the establishment and they are on their own. For technical purposes, they are civilians,” Abbas said. Many top ISI figures are retired military officers.
Mahmud Ali Durrani, a retired army major general who served as Pakistani ambassador to the United States from 2006 to 2008, said he was “taken aback” when he heard about the arrest of Fai, who he said was a familiar figure at the embassy and in Washington.
“He seemed a very mild, soft-spoken gentleman. He didn’t look like Mr. Spy Man,” Durrani said. Referring to the ISI, Durrani said: “I’m quite surprised. I didn’t know they would have such a long-standing, subtle campaign.”
Durrani said it was likely many in Pakistan would conclude that the charges are part of an Indian scheme to stifle discussions of Kashmiri independence. A prominent separatist leader in Indian-controlled Kashmir endorsed that idea on Wednesday, denouncing Fai’s arrest as India’s effort to rid the debate of someone it considered “an eyesore.” The separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, called on Kashmiris to stage protests against the arrest on Friday.
Brulliard reported from Pakistan. Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain in Pakistan and staff researcher Lucy Shackelford in Washington contributed to this report.