Kamran Faridi — Karachi legal who become FBI spy earlier than dropping all of it


Kamran Faridi. — Photograph supplied by the creator

LONDON: When condemning the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s  valued undercover agent Kamran Faridi, 57, to seven years in jail in December 2020, Decide Cathy Seibel of New York’s Southern District Court docket described it as “maybe probably the most troublesome sentencing I’ve ever executed.”

The decide commented that the case carried information, “not like something I believe most of us have ever seen”.

She had reached that conclusion after studying the startling information of the Karachi-born spy’s historical past. 

Faridi’s “profession” had began with hustling on the tough streets of Karachi, segued into main crimes, after which swerved in the direction of a lifetime of harmful undercover operations for American secret companies.

He finally ran afoul of his handlers for issuing dying threats to a few former colleagues — his FBI supervisor, an FBI Joint Terrorism Process Drive (JTTF) officer, and his former FBI handler — in February 2020.

Violent origins

This correspondent reviewed courtroom papers and spoke to Faridi, who’s at present serving time in a New York jail, to piece collectively the extraordinary lifetime of a person whose profession in criminality began after he grew to become related to pupil politics in Karachi whereas nonetheless in his teenagers.

Faridi was born and grew up in Block three of Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal space. He joined the Peoples College students Federation (PSF) — the coed wing of the Pakistan Peoples Get together — when he was a grade-9 pupil on the Ali Ali College and had began hanging out on the Nationwide Faculty, Karachi College, and NED College. Faridi finally grew near PSF’s Najeeb Ahmed, then a widely known pupil chief.

This was a time when pupil unions have been — fairly actually and violently — at battle with one another. Faridi instructed this reporter that he began working weapons and bought into kidnapping for ransom, carjacking, and armed assaults.

As he lived in an space dominated by the rival Muttahida Qaumi Motion (MQM), it quickly grew to become troublesome for him to function from residence floor. Najeeb helped Faridi shift to Occasions Sq., the place he joined different PSF activists residing within the condominium complicated.

Native police and the Crime Investigation Division (CID; now generally known as the CTD) quickly had arrest warrants out in opposition to Faridi. On the similar time, MQM activists have been looking him down.

Conscious of the hazard, Faridi’s household paid off a human smuggler and organized for him to journey to Sweden. In Sweden, nevertheless, Faridi was unable to maintain a low profile and shortly bought into fights with the native Albanian and Bangladeshi gangs.

He was arrested a couple of instances by native police, and in 1992, Swedish authorities blacklisted him and refused to provide him a visa because of his dangerous conduct.

Now an unlawful immigrant, Faridi went into hiding at an island, the place he was allegedly helped by Greenpeace activists. An area human rights activist, in response to Faridi, organized a pretend passport for him to journey to Iceland, from the place he went to America and began a life in New York Metropolis.

He later moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 and acquired a gasoline station in a violent neighbourhood referred to as Bankhead Freeway.

Recruitment within the FBI

Based on Faridi, Atlanta police used to hustle him usually for bribes. Fed up of their harassment, he reported them to the FBI. That is how Faridi first got here into contact with the federal company.

The FBI brokers he was in touch with, Faridi claimed, instructed him that they might assist him, however provided that he would assist them first. They wished him to infiltrate an area Urdu-speaking Pakistani gang that had been inflicting difficulties for native regulation enforcement.

The FBI noticed worth in Faridi’s fluent command of Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi, and in 1996 he grew to become a full-time informant and agent.

Because of his legal background, Faridi did so nicely in serving to the FBI’s investigations that he was provided assignments with the Central Intelligence Company (CIA), the Medication Enforcement Company (DEA), UK’s MI6, French intelligence, Austrian federal police, Thailand’s Federal Police, and the Malaysian Nationwide Police.

He was routinely dispatched to bother zones the place undercover operations in legal and terrorist networks have been wanted.

Forward of sending Faridi to Pakistan after former army dictator Pervez Musharraf seized energy in 1999, the American authorities organized visas for Faridi’s mother and father so that they could possibly be moved from Karachi to America. They now reside in Tampa, Florida.

Transnational espionage

As described by the US authorities in courtroom testimony, Faridi’s feats included a number of high-profile terrorism-related operations. He additionally reportedly performed a key position in acquiring data from a number of the world’s deadliest teams and individuals.

The courtroom heard that in Could 2011, Faridi started supporting an FBI investigation into the infamous South Asian legal community, D-Firm.

His “labours supplied the FBI nice perception into D-Firm’s construction and ways”, and he managed to domesticate an extra FBI supply in Pakistan whose position was seen as so profitable that the FBI needed to twice relocate his household.

In 2014, Faridi grew to become the first supply for a long-term, wide-reaching counterterrorism investigation focusing on an abroad community of senior terrorist operatives. Based on the US authorities, Faridi gathered important intelligence on the community and its associates’ management construction, communication strategies, exterior assault plotting, and operatives, resulting in arrests within the US, Europe, and Asia and the identification of greater than a dozen people looking for to journey to battle zones to take part in terrorist exercise.

In 2015, Faridi maintained a joint protected home with Walid Al-Agha, a Daesh supporter, and chief primarily based in Turkey, and facilitated the journey of different ISIS supporters between Syria and Turkey.

In November 2015, Al-Agha was finally convicted in Turkey and the US authorities credited Kamran Faridi for enjoying a lead position within the conviction.

In late March 2018, he travelled to South America, the place he recognized a help community that was facilitating the journey of terrorist operatives. Based on courtroom papers, on the FBI’s path, Faridi developed a relationship with Mohamed Ahmed Elsayed Ibrahim, a senior al-Qaida member primarily based in Brazil who was concerned in plotting terrorist assaults.

It was by way of Faridi’s efforts that the US realized about Abu Jafar and different al-Qaida members planning to assault the US and overseas maritime vessels with explosives off the coasts of Djibouti and Europe. When Abu Jafar obtained scuba-diving coaching in Malaysia and Thailand, Faridi accompanied him, and primarily based on Faridi’s reporting and help, the FBI positioned Abu Jafar on its Most-Needed checklist.

In July 2018, he travelled to Africa to pursue attainable enterprise alternatives with suspected terrorists. Whereas in Africa, Faridi developed relationships with a number of terrorist associates who performed a task in plotting Africa-based assaults.

The FBI additionally deployed Faridi to Southeast Asia a number of instances in 2016, and once more in 2019, to work together with senior terrorist figures. In February 2019, Faridi’s help led to the arrest of two al-Qaida operatives in Malaysia, in response to the US authorities.

The Motiwala affair

It was because of a lure arrange by Faridi that Karachi businessman Jabir Motiwala was arrested in London in August 2018 on suspicion that he was a prime lieutenant of underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim and was concerned in working medicine, extortion, and cash laundering on behalf of D-Firm — the legal community run by Ibrahim.

Faridi had gained Motiwala’s belief after assembly him in Karachi, Dubai, and America almost eight years earlier than his arrest.

Whereas Motiwala was in Wandsworth jail in London — contesting however ready for his nearly sure extradition to the US — the FBI revoked Faridi’s contract in February 2020.

It was Faridi’s refusal to proceed appearing as a witness in opposition to Jabir and his refusal to signal a press release that led to the eventual collapse of the case in opposition to Motiwala.

Faridi instructed this correspondent in written exchanges that he was requested by the FBI to falsely testify in opposition to D-Firm, Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Anees Bhai, and Anees Tingu in Jabir Motiwala’s case to hyperlink them to the fees in opposition to Jabir Motiwala.

He was additionally allegedly instructed to signal false testimony linking these people to the procurement of nuclear expertise on behalf of a number one Pakistani spy company.

Faridi claimed he, “didn’t wish to lie” as a result of he “had no proof” and he “didn’t wish to submit a false testimony for cash”.

“I didn’t wish to promote Pakistan out on a false foundation. I say it on oath that I used to be requested to lie in my statements by my bosses and I refused to lie. They mentioned if I lie the proof will turn into stronger, however I refused,” he mentioned.

Faridi additional alleged that one among his FBI handlers had written a report linking Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba to legal actions, however he refused to submit false testimony and refused to signal the report.

Dying threats to FBI brokers

After his contract was all of a sudden revoked, Faridi emailed and texted a number of dying threats on February 17 and 18, 2020, to his former FBI handlers.

The courtroom heard that Faridi had “felt betrayed” by the FBI as a result of his spouse, Kelly, had simply been identified with most cancers, and information of his termination worsened the blow.

The US authorities additionally knowledgeable the courtroom that Faridi had helped “enemies of the US” when he requested his spouse to alert at the least 4 or 5 suspects that they have been underneath surveillance.

The decide mentioned that whereas she did agree that Faridi had obstructed the work of regulation enforcement, however: “the worth of this defendant’s unimaginable work for america is immense” and that “the work that Mr Faridi did for america is on the very prime to me of priceless supply work”.

The decide added: “[…] even when the [US] authorities gave it the again of the hand, I do not give it the again of the hand. Unbelievable work of immense worth over a few years, within the riskiest of circumstances, and, you recognize, I believe it might be laborious to understate (sic) the worth of it.”

“The profit that the defendant gave this nation is large and the injury he did […] did not wipe it out utterly, but it surely did an amazing quantity of hurt.”

She despatched him to jail for a seven-year time period.

From behind bars, Faridi now hopes that the decide will take a “thoughtful” have a look at his case and contributions and cut back the sentence.

That’s the solely hope he has proper now.

He instructed this reporter that he’ll go away for Pakistan as quickly as his sentence is over.

“I served the US wholeheartedly, however I’ve been rewarded a jail sentence and faraway from lengthy service as a result of I refused to lie about Pakistan.”