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Reno man admits he conspired to support terrorist attacks in India

A Reno man pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with others to support terrorist attacks in India.

Balwinder Singh, 42, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks,

“Today’s plea is the result of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working proactively to disrupt terrorist attacks,” Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, said in a statement Tuesday. “National security is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to locate, identify, and prosecute those who conspire and attempt to provide material support to terrorists and terrorist activities.”

Singh was charged in 2013 and has been in U.S. custody since then. A citizen of India, Singh became a permanent U.S. resident after claiming asylum.

One of Singh’s co-conspirators was stopped by law enforcement on Dec. 9, 2013, at the San Francisco International Airport while trying to board a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, thwarting the group’s plans for the individual to travel to India for a terror attack.

Prosecutors said the attack, which never happened, likely was aimed at an Indian government official. The month before, Singh had purchased two sets of night vision goggles and provided them to the individual.

The planned terrorist attacks were part of an effort to create an independent Sikh state called Khalistan in the Punjab region of India.

During that time, Singh was a member of two terrorist groups, Babbar Khalsa International, which has members of the Sikh religion, and Khalistan Zindabad Force, according to the indictment. The leader of Babbar Khalsa recognized Singh as the group’s U.S. leader in 2012.

Singh pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The conspiracy unfolded between September 2013 and December 2013 and included telephone conversations and plans.

In the original indictment filed in 2013, federal prosecutors also had alleged that Singh used false identification documents when traveling to India and wired money to associates in India from locations that included Las Vegas, Reno, Sparks and California.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 27, and Singh faces up to 15 years in prison.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

 

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