RENO — A Nevada man has been charged with providing material support to terrorism groups in India and Pakistan in order to intimidate the Indian government and to harm those not supporting their Sikh separatist cause, federal officials said Wednesday.
Balwinder Singh, 39, of Reno, is charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country, among other charges.
According to the indictment, Singh, known by several other names, is a member of two terrorist organizations, Babbar Khalsa International and Khalistan Zindabad Force, whose members aim to establish an independent Sikh state in part of the Punjab region of India known as Khalistan.
Singh is not alleged to have committed any terrorist actions aimed at U.S. citizens.
In a press conference, Daniel Bogden, U.S. attorney for Nevada, said cooperation among various agencies, including local law enforcement, led to the charges.
“Investigating and prosecuting matters of national security is the top priority of the U.S. Department of Justice,” he said.
“After an extensive investigation, the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force of Northern Nevada has disrupted an individual’s involvement in facilitation activities in support of a foreign terrorist organization, targeting an ally of the United States,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Laura Bucheit. “We will continue to work with our international partners to prevent acts of terrorism on U.S. soil or, as in this case, on that of an ally.”
The indictment alleges that the object of the conspiracy was to advance the goals of the terrorist groups beginning no later than November 1997.
It is alleged that Singh used a false identity and obtained false identification documents in the U.S. so that he could travel back to India without being apprehended by the Indian authorities.
It is alleged that Singh communicated with other co-conspirators by telephone while he was in the U.S. to discuss acts of terrorism to be carried out in India. It is alleged that Singh sent money from Reno to co-conspirators in India for the purchase of weapons that would be provided to members of the terrorist groups to support acts of terrorism in India.
The terrorist groups are known to target for assassination persons they consider traitors to the Sikh religion and government officials who they consider responsible for atrocities against the Sikhs.
Singh was a citizen of India who fled to the U.S. and claimed asylum. He eventually obtained a permanent residency card.
If convicted, Singh faces up to life in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count.
He is due for an initial court appearance on Friday when more details of the case are expected to be released.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.