An Indian citizen who received asylum in the U.S. and lived in Nevada, could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to plot terror strikes in his home country. U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno also ordered Balwinder Singh, 42, to remain under lifetime federal supervision upon his release from prison.
Singh, aka Jhaji, aka Happy, aka Possi, aka Baljit Singh, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, according to a Nov. 29, 2016 press release from the Department of Justice.
Singh, a permanent U.S. resident, was detained since his arrest on Dec. 17, 2013. Prosecutors say Singh worked with two groups trying to establish an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region
Court documents say Singh belonged to the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force groups, which aim to establish an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region. In 2012, Singh was made the head of the U.S. branch of the group by BKI leader Wadhawa Singh Babbar, also known as “Chacha,.” According to documents filed in court, Singh is said to have given false statements to immigration officials in 1997 when he applied for asylum. During his time in the U.S. Singh also provided false information and traveled back to India on several occasions.
From 2006 to 2011, Singh wired money to India to two known conspirators, amounts which ranged from $98.50 to $985, documents show. The money was earmarked to fund terrorist attacks.
The more serious allegations in the state’s case began in 2012, right around the time he was made the leader of BKI, court documents show. Prosecutors said Singh requested “big weapons and explosives” and in phone conversations taught someone how to build an explosive device.
According to court filed documents and admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, Singh communicated with co-conspirators by telephone to discuss these plans and agreed to provide material support by facilitating a co-conspirator’s travel to and within South Asia and providing funding and materials necessary to carry out an overseas attack.
The plot, which investigators believe targeted an Indian government official for assassination, was thwarted when one of Singh’s co-conspirators was barred from boarding a flight from San Francisco to South Asia in November 2013, the Justice Department press release said. The target was going to be determined after the suspect landed.
In late 2013, Singh bought two pairs of night-vision goggles and a computer, which he provided to a suspect who was to carry out an attack on an undetermined date. Authorities on Dec. 9, 2013, barred the suspect from boarding a flight to Thailand. As a result, the planned terror attack never occurred.