Court records show that Manafort’s Kashmiri lobbying contract came on the FBI’s radar screen during a lengthy counterterrorism investigation that culminated in 2011 with the arrest of the Kashmiri council’s director, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, on charges that he ran the group on behalf of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, as part of a scheme to secretly influence U.S. policy toward the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The Kashmiri American Council was a “scam” that amounted to a “false flag operation that Mr. Fai was operating on behalf of the ISI,” Gordon D. Kromberg, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, said in March 2012 at Fai’s sentencing hearing in federal court. While posing as a U.S.-based nonprofit funded by American donors sympathetic to the plight of Kashmiris, it was actually bankrolled by the ISI in order to deflect public attention “away from the involvement of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere,” Kromberg said. Fai, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud charges, was then sentenced to two years in federal prison.
Lobbying records filed with the secretary of the Senate show that Manafort’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, was paid $700,000 by the Kashmiri American Council between 1990 and 1995.