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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Indian Convicted in US for Providing Material Support For Sikh Separatist Organization

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Brooklyn, New York., 21 December (Asiantribune.com): Following two weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday, December 20, returned a verdict convicting Khalid Awan of providing money and financial services to the Khalistan Commando Force (“KCF”), a terrorist organization responsible for thousands of deaths in India since it’s founding in 1986. When sentenced by United States District Judge Charles P. Sifton on March 7, 2007, Awan faces a maximum sentence of 45 years’ incarceration.

The conviction was announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

KCF was formed in 1986 and is comprised of Sikh militants who seek to establish a separate Sikh state in the Punjab region of India. The organization has engaged in numerous assassinations of prominent Indian government officials -- including the murder of Chief Minister Beant Singh of Punjab in 1995 -- and hundreds of bombings, acts of sabotage, and kidnappings.

The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force began the investigation in 2003 after an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Awan was incarcerated on federal credit card fraud charges, reported that Awan boasted of his relationship with Paramjit Singh Panjwar, the leader of the KCF and one of the ten most wanted fugitives in India. The government’s evidence at trial included recordings of Awan’s prison telephone calls to Panjwar in Pakistan, in which AWAN introduced the inmate as a potential recruit for the KCF; statements by Awan admitting that he sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to KCF; testimony by two New York-area fund raisers for the KCF who stated that they delivered money to Awan’s residence in Garden City; and testimony by the Assistant Inspector General of the Punjab Police Intelligence Division that the KCF was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent victims in India.

"The war on terror is a global battle,” stated Mauskopf, United States Attorney. “We will not permit individuals in our jurisdiction to finance terrorist groups responsible for murder and violence in any part of the world." Ms. Mauskopf expressed her grateful appreciation to the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance in this case, and thanked the government of India and the Punjab Police Department for their cooperation.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, "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. The security of each of us depends on the determination of all of us to join forces in a truly global effort."

- Asian Tribune -

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