How FBI's Pakistani spies traded drugs with Jabir Motiwala — and secretly recorded him

FBI alleges Jabir Motiwala went to Atlantic City in 2011 to meet undercover FBI agents for an alleged narcotics and money-laundering deal

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FBI alleges Jabir Motiwala went to Atlantic City for two days in 2011 to meet undercover FBI agents for an alleged narcotics and money-laundering deal. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: Karachi businessman Jabir Motiwala was secretly recorded by three Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Pakistani origin secret agents over several years while he dealt in import of class A drugs, extortion and money-laundering to the United States, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told on Monday at the start of Motiwala’s extradition trial.

Barrister John Hardy, appearing on behalf of the US government, told district judge John Zani how Motiwala travelled from Karachi to the US to meet the three US-Pakistani FBI agents to set up deals of drugs and money-laundering.

The three FBI agents – described as CS1, CS2 and CS3 to protect their identity – then travelled to Karachi where they held extensive meetings with Motiwala to set up deals for the smuggling of heroin into the US. All these meetings were secretly recorded.

The 51-year-old Pakistani national was arrested in August last year from Hilton on Edgware Road by Scotland Yard’s Extradition Unit on request of the US government to face extradition to the US after an FBI probe charged him with money laundering, extortion and conspiracy to import unlawful substances such as heroin.

Barrister Hardy has accused Motiwala of being a “high ranking” member of the D-company, a criminal organisation run by Indian national Dawood Ibrahim. He told the judge that Motiwala was met by three FBI agents in the US who were “recruited by him for heroin smuggling, extortion and money laundering”.

The prosecution barrister claimed that during his interaction with the FBI agents, the businessman disclosed activities of the D-company in India, UAE and Pakistan.

The prosecution lawyer told Judge John Zani that the FBI’s investigations, dating back to in 2005, involved a series of confidential sources who were involved in a series of covert meetings, telephone and email interactions with Motiwala.

He added, Motiwala was not a mule as it was an FBI agent who carried the drugs but Motiwala was “facilitator” of four kg of heroin which reached US. Multiple calls and evidence related to smuggling of drugs was recorded and Motiwala threatened the secret FBI agent (CS1) later on when payment was not made, according to the prosecution. The secret FBI agent made a partial payment of around $20,000 to Motiwala in Karachi and evidence of payment was recorded, the court heard.

Two other agents CS2 and CS3 were involved in relation to the evidence of money laundering, blackmail and extortion.

Motiwala’s legal team, led by barrister Edward Fitzgerald, raised the issue of "passage of time" claiming that the alleged offences date back many years and the "long delay" between 2014 and 2018 had not been "explained" by the US authorities.

Barrister Edward Fitzgerald then introduced Professor Michael to the court who told the extradition judge that Motiwala is highly likely to commit suicide if extradited to US. The doctor told the court that he had seen his past medical record, obtained independently from Pakistan, and it was well established that Motiwala has a long history of depression and he will take his life if he sent to the US to face trial and jail in solitary confinement.

At the hearing, Motiwala appeared in the dock, unshaven, weak and looking outcast. He looked down with his eyes closed for most of the time during the hearing as the prosecution laid out charges against him before the judge while his defence lawyer cross-examined the doctor who testified that the Karachi businessman attempted suicide on three occasions and has a long history of battling severe levels of depression, trauma and anxiety.

“Jabir Motiwala suffers from episodes of clinical depression, recurrence of depression, severe and moderate depressive episodes. He feels helpless for future and has suicidal thoughts. He feels like dying and he wants to die at once, not in pieces. On the scale of risk, he is at high risk of danger,” the doctor said about Motiwala’s symptoms, based on his medical records of last several years.

The doctor said that he had taken an overdose of tablets once to kill himself and this was confirmed by his two wives, who reside in Karachi.

Professor Michael said Motiwala’s Karachi physician Dr Anwar Qadeer had confirmed that he treated him for depression.

“The whole family suffers from depression. Jabir has pondered suicide many times. The first wife confirmed severe depression, the second described how he tried to conceal his depression, and consistent with what Jabir had told me. He doesn’t sleep and eat properly; looks sad and worried; loses weight; drinks more. He can be constantly sad, doesn’t care for his appearance, appears unshaven, and doesn’t wash regularly and generally being unhygienic.”

The doctor further told the court that if extradited to the US, Motiwala’s situation would worsen. “I would put suicide attempt at a high level of probability. He did leave a suicide note after 2015 suicide attempt,” he said.

The FBI alleged that Motiwala went to Atlantic City for two days in 2011 to meet undercover FBI agents for an alleged narcotics and money-laundering deal but the defence has said that he got trapped into it and unlawful methods were used to entrap him.

Motiwala has denied the allegations and his lawyer has previously told the court that his grandfather and father were pivotal in setting up Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and belonged to a respectable business family with the history of genuine business credentials.