A report published today by the Hudson Institute - titled 'Pakistan's Destabilization Playbook: Khalistan Separatist Activism Within the US' - examines the history, activities and violence of the Khalistani movement, along with its ties to the Pakistani regime. The Khalistanis are a radicalized Sikh separatist movement, whose members have a long history of international violence, as well as a significant presence in North America.
A summary of the report and its key points, written by Dr. Aparna Pande and Ambassador Husain Haqqani, can be read here.
Alongside an esteemed selection of academics and analysts, we contributed to the report - working to investigate the Khalistani movement's ties to domestic Kashmiri and Islamist groups across the United States. Indeed, we have long been interested in the phenomenon of American Islamism's 'fellow travelers'.
We encourage you to read the full report, but here are some examples of the Islamist connections:
- Ghulam Nabi Fai is a prominent Kashmiri activist and a regular fixture on the American Islamist speaking circuit, who was previously jailed for serving as an agent of Pakistan's ISI, receiving millions from the Pakistani regime to lobby on behalf of Pakistan and Kashmir. Fai also has a long history of collaboration with the Khalistani movement, regularly collaborating and sharing a platform with their leading activists. Since at least 2016, Fai has led annual protests made up of Khalistani, Islamist, and Kashmiri activists outside the United Nations building in New York.
- In July 2021, Khalistani activists joined Fai and American Islamist supporters to honor "Kashmir Martyrs Day." Following a rabble-rousing speech, one Khalistani leader led the crowd in chants of "India out of Kashmir. India out of Khalistan.
- Fai's efforts are regularly covered by American Khalistani television channel TV84. The station also broadcasts overt propaganda for Kashmiri jihadists, referring to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists as "martyrs" dedicated to the "people's fight for democracy."
- Politicians funded by Pakistan through Fai included Rep. Dan Burton, who became a rare but vocal supporter of the Khalistani cause in Congress, inviting Khalistani leaders and Fai to address audiences in the Capitol.
- The most hardline and prominent voice of Khalistani activism in the United States is centered around an organization named Sikhs for Justice (SfJ), whose leader is a designated terrorist in India. SfJ has collaborated with groups such as Friends of Kashmir, a key component of a Pakistani backed Islamist network in Houston with ties to Pakistani government, intelligence services and Kashmiri jihadists. Our previous exposé of Friends of Kashmir can be read here.
- In 2019, SfJ joined Friends of Kashmir, Fai, and a number of prominent American Islamist organizations in protesting the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In return, in 2020, Friends of Kashmir invited SfJ to be part of an event co-organized with the Pakistani embassy and its consulate in Houston, alongside a number of American Islamists and two members of Congress.
- Other Kashmiri Islamist tied organizations include Stand With Kashmir (which we have also previously exposed). It counts among its supporters a Sikh Progressivist group named Ruthless Collective, which has apparent ties to Khalistani terror charity Khalsa Aid.
- Stand With Kashmir has also partnered with Khalistani-tied organization, Organization for the Minorities of India (OFMI) and Jamaat-e-Islami American Islamist group Indian American Muslim Council (which is accused by counter-extremism analysts of ties to the Indian-designated terrorist group SIMI). OFMI founder Bhajan Singh Bhinder was once accused by federal agents of attempting to procure assault weapons and shoulder-fired missiles for the Khalistani movement.
- A number of North American Muslims convicted of terrorism in American courts have been accused of links to the Khalistani movement. In 2006, for instance, Pakistani-Canadian Khalid Awan was convicted in a New York federal court of providing money and financial services to the Khalistan Commando Force, "a terrorist organization responsible for thousands of deaths in India since its founding in 1986."
The full report contains significantly more information about North American Khalistani groups, a breakdown of their U.S. groups and networks, and an examination of their ties to extant Islamist organizations. You can read it here.