In the wake of Delhi Police’s press conference regarding the Toolkit conspiracy, as the police names Nikita Jacob as a ‘committed operator’ and accesses multiple conversations between her and Pieter Friedrich, a number of questions have arisen. Most of these questions are in the direction of Pieter Friedrich, who is he, and what exactly was his role behind the scenes?
Then there is a bigger question, who was behind Pieter Friedrich? How did this man come out from nowhere and was able to become an accepted ‘South Asian analyst’? The truth is stranger than fiction, but it should serve to remind us the extent to which the enemies of India are willing to go to.
In the press conference, Delhi Police revealed Pieter’s Khalistani connection. Because of his association with an ISI operative i.e. Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Pieter was on the radar of Indian security agencies since 2006. Before we dive into the Khalistani construction of Pieter’s entire public persona, we have to recognize the Khalistani terrorists that were behind it.
In an interview with India Today, when asked about his Khalistani connections, Pieter replied defiantly, “Look at the entire body of my work, I’m a relentless voice against the RSS and the BJP, have I ever written anything in favor of Khalistan?”. Pieter further adds, “I oppose religious nationalism in all its forms and I have specifically stated I oppose Khalistan.”
In this article, we will examine Pieter’s entire body of work, including his early days as a Christian activist when he was a believer in Christian theocracy, to his alleged connection with Khalistani Bhajan Singh Bhinder, to his current new role as ‘South Asian analyst’. But before we embark on that journey, we need to be completely aware of Bhajan Singh Bhinder’s history.
The Shadowy Re-Emergence of the Khalistani Spectre
Bhajan Singh Bhinder is a name which the Indian security agencies are deeply familiar with. He was on the Indian Government’s terror blacklist between 1999 to 2011. He was on Pakistan’s ISI payroll under the alias Iqbal Choudhary. There are multiple references to Bhinder’s active role in furthering extremist Khalistani insurgency in Punjab from the mid 80s to the 90s. He was named by fellow Khalistani militants as a go-between the Khalistani terrorists and the Pakistani ISI which was training and funding them.
Bhinder’s most noteworthy role was in the case of Lal Singh, a failed terrorist conspiracy which could have resulted in hundreds of deaths. In this conspiracy, Bhinder was funding a terror plot to carry out bombings in several Indian cities, including Mumbai and Chennai. But fortunately, the police was able to apprehend Lal Singh along with four other accomplices – Mohammad Sharief, Md Saquib Nachan, Tahir Jamal, and Shoaib Mukhtiar. This was a joint terrorist conspiracy with both the ISI and Khalistani terror groups coming together to cause large scale loss of life and property in India.
Lal Singh’s arrest in 1992 was a huge breakthrough for the investigating agencies. The information which Lal Singh possessed was extremely valuable. Lal Singh revealed the existence of the K-2 conspiracy to the Indian officials. In Pakistan, Lal Singh met one Sajjad Alam Raja and together with him created an organization called ‘K-2’. The purpose of K-2 was to foment revolts and rebellions within India in order to achieve an independent Khalistan, and the unification of Kashmir with Pakistan.
Lal Singh received a lot of logistical support in Pakistan from entities like the Jamaat-e-Islami, ISI and other Khalistani groups. In order to infiltrate India, Lal Singh had a fake Indian identity in the form of a fake passport provided by Choudhary Altaf Hussain, a member in the Pakistani Punjab assembly. Choudhary Altaf Hussain is the uncle of Fawad Chaudhry, the current Federal Minister of Science and Technology in Pakistan.
In his confession, Lal Singh divulged that he received Rs. 20-25 lakhs annually from Khalistanis based out of USA, UK, and Canada, including Bhajan Singh Bhinder from California. However, Bhinder escaped prosecution despite being a supporter of the terrorist conspiracy. But his terrorist activities did not stop there. After the failure of Lala Singh’s conspiracy, Bhinder, along with Gurtej Singh, part-owner of Saffron Express, almost finalized a huge deal with an arms dealer to send weapons to India.
Bhinder was looking for advanced weapons and tactical gear. M-16s, A.K.-47s, detonators, night-vision goggles, mobile communications equipment, remote-control equipment, grenade and rocket launchers, and last but not least, Stinger missiles. Needles to say, Bhinder was looking to secure a huge weapons arsenal, enough for a small war, in order to send it to Pakistan via sea and then to India.
However, Bhinder later cancelled the arms deal, citing suspicions. His suspicions would turn out to be correct, as it turned out that the arms dealer selling weapons to Bhinder was a U.S. Customs undercover agent. After the cancellation of the deal, the U.S. probe into Bhinder’s dealings was over and he went to Pakistan once again.
Establishing a Khalistani ecosystem in the West
After failing in their aim to carry out a terror attack in India, Bhinder and his associates sought to consolidate their position within their diaspore Sikh community. Contemporary reporting tells us that Bhinder was the President of Gurudwara Sahib Fremont, the most influential and financially relevant Sikh Gurudwara in all of California, since 1992.
The Gurudwara boasted of $1 million dollars in cash reserves and was built on a plot of land worth $4 million. In order to make the Khalistan movement against India financially viable, Bhinder and his associates overtook the administration of the Fremont Gurudwara. Bhinder was also associated with the Sikh Youth of America, a pro-Khalistani group which eventually had Bhinder as its President.
In 1996, a group of Sikh Youth of America members burst into the Fremont Gurudwara and demanded that the members of the Gurudwara’s Supreme Council step down. This was because the Sikh Youth of America members could completely control the day to day functioning of the Gurudwara with Bhinder as the Gurudwara President. Eventually, a fight broke out which featured pulling of beards, tearing down of turbans, grappling, slapping, and punching. This attempt to forcefully overtake the administration of the Gurudwara was successful.
The next year in 1997, Bhinder brings in Jaswinder Singh Jandi and Jasjeet Singh Chela in the Fremont Gurudwara administration. They declared themselves to be the new Supreme Council. Over the next two years, more Sikh Youth of America members became a part of the Supreme Council, with Jandi becoming the new Gurudwara President with Chela as his closest adviser. The administration and day to day affairs of the most influential and financially powerful Gurudwara in California was run by self-declared Khalistanis.
Soon after the Khalistani coup of the Fremont Gurudwara, the atmosphere was rife with multiple allegations of financial irregularities. Members of the congregation levelled multiple accusations at Jandi and Chela including accusing them of misappropriation of funds to the tune of $1 million. There was also an incident of a devotee being beat up by Chela and his men for questioning another incident of misappropriation. This was done in order to instill fear into the congregation.
Finally, in 2003, the Khalistani reign of terror over the Fremont Gurudwara came to an end, with a local court ordering elections in order to herald in a new Gurudwara administration. Bhinder and his Khalistani associates failed to prevent new elections and lost their positions in the Gurudwara administration. But, by that point of time, Bhinder had already set up a formidable Khalistani ecosystem, with revenue coming in from drug trafficking and pirated DVD sales.
Saffron Express and Drug Trafficking
The question becomes, where did the money from the financial misappropriation and irregularities go to? According to Special Agent Tim Lum of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the money went to Saffron Express, which reported an annual gross income of about $5 million to $6 million. Saffron Express was a trucking company registered in the name of Chela, with Jandi and Gurtej Singh as board members.
We already know that Jandi and Chela were an inextricable part of the Fremont Gurudwara administration and that all all three of them are Sikh Youth of America members. So we know that the Freemont Gurudwara was under the control of the same people who were part-owners of Saffron Express.
Truck driver Jashandeep ‘Shantu’ Singh, a subcontractor of Saffron Express, had 238 pounds of narcotics in the back of his truck. He was 266 miles from his route of Vancouver to Los Angeles. This drug bust garnered the attention of the Drugs and Enforcement Agency (DEA). It was the DEA’s conclusion that Shantu Singh was part of the infamous East Indian Drug Ring that operated between British Columbia and the U.S. With Shantu Singh’s arrest, Saffron Express came under the radar of the DEA.
BIBA insurance, an insurance company formed specifically to provide insurance to Saffron Express came out in the rucking company’s defense. Bhinder, who was the spokesperson for BIBA insurance, denied any meaningful relationship between Shantu Singh and Saffron Express, claiming that the truck did not belong to Saffron Express. However, when the police arrested Shantu Singh they recovered bills of lading, fuel receipts, and expense vouchers that indicate the trip was financed by Saffron Express.
According to Special Agent Tim Lum’s report, there was embezzling of money from the Fremont Gurudwara in order to pay Shantu Singh and his family a $100k to stay silent about the narcotics episode. In an interrogation recorded on tape, Chela divulged that the Sikh Youth of America was in total control of the Fremont Gurudwara and the money donated to it by the congregation. This gave them plenty of opportunity to divert and funnel the temple donation money into radical Khalistani activities.
Pirating DVDs for Khalistan and Eventual Arrests
Jai Singh, an accomplice of Bhinder, was pirating movies to sell them as DVDs in order to fund their Khalistani ambitions. However, Jai Singh’s piracy adventures caught the attention of Eros International, his former employer. Eros International hired a Private Investigator, Brett Sua, to go undercover and interrogate Jai Singh.
In the interrogation, not only Jai Singh revealed his entire piracy operation to the undercover investigator, but also asked for the investigator’s help in order to secure the escape of his friend Shantu Singh to flee the U.S.A. In Jai Singh’s words, his friend was caught for transporting, ‘three hundred pounds of marijuana.’
Finally, after numerous illegal activities ranging from assault and violence to drug trafficking to selling pirate DVDs, all of them done to propagate the cause of Khalistan, some arrests were made. On October 14, 2003, an undercover agent entered the Saffron Express office seeking to arrest Jai Singh. Fortunately, the undercover agent also spotted Chela.
Within an hour, hundreds of agents from the DEA, FBI, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the Fremont Police Department stormed inside the office. The raid ended with the arrests of both Chela and Jai Singh. However, Bhajan Singh Bhinder was still a free man. He had accumulated enough wealth and influence through his illicit ways, and he was ready to use every last bit of against India.
Pieter Friedrich: The Construction of a Khalistani Asset
After the failures of Bhajan Singh Bhinder to smuggle guns and bombs into India for Khalistani terrorism, and the the dying down of militancy in Punjab due to widespread discontent against it, Bhinder sought new ways to attack and harm India. Bhinder, an ISI operative and a radical Khalistani, came to the decision that an information war in the age of Internet in order to malign and defame India on the world stage is the way forward. Perhaps the intention of Bhinder was to poison the well against India diplomatically, so that economic and military sanctions can be imposed on India. Whatever Bhinder’s intentions were, almost certainly the average Indian would bear the brunt of it.
To put his plan into action, Bhinder would require an ecosystem of organizations, journalists, publications, academics etc. in order to make the extremist Khalistani cause seem more palatable and legitimate to people. But first of all, Bhinder would require a face, a relatable face for the Western audience which could seamlessly spread Khalistani propaganda. A White face, for the Indian liberal/leftist audience, who need a White man to validate their beliefs because of their deep inferiority complex. In 2007, Bhinder found his man.
Meet Pieter Friedrich, 35 years old. Before joining up with Khalistani terrorist Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Pieter was a Christian missionary activist and a lot of his early activism is Pro-Life Christian activism. No mention of any activism related to India or the Khalistani cause pops up before 2007, which makes it likely that this is around the time Bhinder met Pieter. Pieter, in 2004 referring to his beliefs, called himself a believer in ‘constitutional republican Christian theocracy’. This gives us insight into the mind of a man, who now calls any demonstration or support for a Hindu State in India as ‘Saffron Fascism’, himself desiring a Christian theocracy for the United States.
Suddenly, Pieter expresses interest in the welfare of Indian minorities in 2007. Pieter joins the Sikh Information Center (SIC), with Bhinder as the Founding Director. Pieter also goes on to form the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). Please keep in mind that according to the Delhi Police press conference, Pieter has been on the radar of Indian security agencies ever since 2006, when his connection to ISI operative Bhajan Singh Bhinder came to light.
It certainly is interesting, how a man goes from being a Christian missionary activist with focus on America to caring about every single minority community in India in a span of less than three years. Therefore, the information given by the Indian security agencies vis-à-vis Pieter Friedrich makes sense.
We have more evidence to support this, because 2007 was a very big year in Pieter’s life. Not only did he become a part of SIC and formed OFMI, Pieter also started a transport company together with Bhinder known as Safety Net Transpo. In addition to all these ventures, Bhinder also incorporated a book publishing company known as Sovereign Star Publishing. This publishing company has published all of Pieter’s books, including his collaboration books with Bhinder under a different name, Peter J. Nevers.
Keep in mind that Pieter was 22 in 2007. Forming companies over issues relating to India, a country which Pieter had no prior interest in, just does not add up. Bhinder was surely a massive influence on Pieter, changing the trajectory of Pieter’s life. We should keep in mind that Bhajan Singh Bhinder was a declared terrorist in India at the time all of these collaborations and ventures were taking shape between Pieter and Bhajan. This can be a reason why Bhinder did not take up a management role in OFMI until 2013, when he became the CEO of OFMI. Bhinder was taken off the Indian Government’s terror blacklist in 2011.
Around 2007, Pieter also went by another name, Pieter Flanigan. Under this name, Pieter ran Gandhism.net, an anti-Gandhi website created to denigrate Mahatma Gandhi and his ideologies. The goal of this website was clear. It was to cast an overwhelmingly negative light on Gandhi, with accusations of racism and pedophilia being thrown at the Mahatma in every column on the website.
It was also to organize real life protests against Mahatma Gandhi and India in general. This includes, a 22-year-old Pieter leading an anti-Gandhi movement in San Francisco in response to United Nation’s announcement of declaring October 2nd, 2007 as an “International Day of Non-Violence”. Mahatma Gandhi is the most easily recognizable Indian leader on Earth and the idea was to tarnish his image in order to vicariously tarnish India’s image.
Around April to June, 2013, Pieter Friedrich created two new YouTube channels under the assumed name of Pieter Singh. The content of the videos uploaded online makes it clear that Pieter Friedrich was using the name Pieter Singh. “My name is Pieter Singh”, Friedrich declares in a Sacramento City Council meeting in one of the videos. Not just that, on Pieter Singh’s channel are a couple of videos of Bhajan Singh Bhinder.
In these videos, Bhinder’s designation is as the Founding Director of Sikh Information Center. Bhinder advocates for the release of convicted Khalistani terrorist Davinderpal Singh Bhullar in one of the videos. In another, he calls upon the U.S. Congress to pass a house resolution which would condemn Modi and India. At this point in time, Pieter Friedrich and Bhajan Singh Bhinder became intertwined with each other.
However, Friedrich was still engaging in Christian activism after his turn towards Sikhism with his Pieter Singh persona. In 2014, Pieter ran a protest against U.S. politician Ami Bera, accusing him of ‘too close’ to Indian politicians who ‘kill Christians’. In hindsight, it seems clear that the persona of Pieter Singh was formed in order to push SIC campaigns online like FreeBhullar.com, which called for the release of a convicted Khalistani terrorist.
The Pieter Singh persona could have also been useful for Friedrich in order to establish and nurture contacts within the California Sikh community, visiting Gurudwaras and using the avatar of Pieter Singh whilst he was there.
Over the course of his ‘career’, Pieter Friedrich wrote 7 books, three of which have been co-authored by his Khalistani ISI Operative partner, Bhajan Singh Bhinder. All of the books which Pieter has either written or co-authored have been published by Sovereign Star Publishing, a publishing company registered under the name of Bhinder in 2007. Therefore, one can say that Pieter Friedrich owes his entire career as a published author to Bhinder, a designated terrorist in India till 2011.
One ‘book’ by Friedrich, Kite Flights, is a particularly odious one. In this ‘book’, co-authored by Bhinder, Friedrich tries to shift away the blame of the deadly Kabul Gurudwara attack, away from Islamist terrorists which carried out the attack, to India. In other words, a bona fide Khalistani terrorist and an American ‘Fascism expert’ write a book together to prove as to how the Kabul Gurudwara attack wasn’t the fault of Islamist terroists like ISIS-Haqqani Netwrok, but instead of India. In this ‘book’, Friedrich tries to justify the reasoning of ISIS for the Kabul attack, which is ‘retaliation’ to the ‘Hindutva’ government of India and Modi. This ‘book’ is still available as a PDF download on the Sikh Information Center website.
Over the course Pieter Friedrich’s many avatars, from his humble beginnings as a Christian missionary activist, to Sikh activist Pieter Singh, to the present ‘Fascism expert’ ‘South Asia analyst’ avatar, Pieter Friedrich has come a long way. Ever since he reportedly met Bhinder in 2006, Pieter has been on an upward trajectory. Going from no connection whatsoever to India or the Indian subcontinent to ‘South Asia Expert’ is a remarkable journey. However, on every step of his jounrey, Pieter was accompanied by a designated Khalistani terrorist and ‘former’ ISI operative.
The ascension of Bhajan Singh Bhinder within OFMI as CEO in 2013 proves that Pieter, who was 22 at the time of the formation of OFMI, was just the proxy to establish it. In other words, the credit for Pieter Friedrich’s construction as a ‘South Asia analyst’ with pro-Khalistan talking points goes to Bhinder, a Khalistani terrorist. However, the credibility of Pieter Friedrich as a ‘South Aisa expert’ was established not just by Bhinder, but also by many mainstream outlets.
The Enemies Within
During 2015-2019, many articles by Pieter Friedrich in online news media websites like thecitizen.com, velivada.com, sabrangindia.in, clarionindia.net etc. were published. This was a coordinated effort in order to boost Friedrich’s credibility in India as an ‘expert’. Before this period, Friedrich’s main focus of operations was within the United States. This period was critical and necessary for Friedrich in order to establish his credibility as a ‘South Asian Expert’.
Once he established some credibility in India, there was sudden increase in the prominence of the online news media featuring his articles. In a span of 30 days, Friedrich’s articles were featured in prominent Indian online publications like The Wire, The Caravan and The Quint. Pieter’s contribution to The Quint and The Wire both was to feature a Hinduphobic smear piece on Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu U.S. Congress Representative in America.
Pieter attempts to paint Tulsi, a noted Anti-War progressive politician as some sort of ‘Hindutva Fascist’. Despite such shoddy reporting, none of these prominent publications felt a need to run a background check on Pieter. Maybe if they had, they would have easily found the Khalistani terrorist connection which has eluded people for so long. But unfortunately, all of these publications instead promoted Pieter Friedrich even further.
On social media, Pieter is a popular account which has been amplified by many other Indian social media influencers in the form of ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ or ‘replies’. These include, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish Kumar, Kavita Krishnan, Rohini Singh, Pawan Khera, Akash Banerjee, Ankit Lal, Mihir Sharma and many others. However, it should be noted that in all likelihood, the aforementioned people were not aware of Pieter’s credible Khalistan connection. Even though some of these people are journalists, running a background check on the people they choose to promote is probably a bridge too far.
However, Pieter’s astroturfing as a ‘South Asian expert’ was not only reliant on Khalistani funds and social media. It was also reliant on various NGOs, Think Tanks and Intellectuals. Pieter conducted interviews of various intellectuals like Dr. Ashok Swain and Dr. John Dayal on his personal and OFMI’s YouTube channles respectively. These interviews were important to establish Pieter’s credibility as an ‘intellectual’.
One of the major promoters and amplifiers of OFMI, which is Pieter and Bhinder’s organization, is Equality Labs. OFMI, along with various other organizations, facilitated the Equality Labs report published in 2018. Bhinder’s name was also listed in the report as ‘Bhajan Singh’ because of his contributions.
Therefore, it is to say that Pieter Friedrich, ever since he met Bhinder in 2006, has been groomed to be a perfect pro-Khalistan asset. Khalistani funding allows for the creation of the publishing company which publishes all of Friedrich’s books. Khalistani backing allows Pieter to form the Organization for Minorities of India, Pieter, who is not Indian, not a minority, not Indian connection even within his forefathers only forms OFMI because of Bhinder. And now that Pieter is established as a ‘South Asian expert’, he features in the toolkit which pushes unrest and agitation in India. A thorough investigation into Pieter Friedrich is the need of the hour.
In order to understand why Khalistani money and influence is going towards funding Pieter Friedrich and the machinery of organizations, companies and NGOs behind him, we must understand the aim of this Khalistani enemy. The aim is to target India, in every possible way, in order to discredit India and reduce the sphere of influence India has over the world.
At the very start, in 2007, Pieter began his anti-India activism with activism against Mahatma Gandhi. This is because Mahatma Gandhi is India’s most recognizable leader and a symbol of India to the world. An attack on Gandhi’s prestige at the international level is the same as an attack India’s prestige. The world recognizes India as a peaceful and non-violent nation because of the principles that Gandhi espoused. That is the reason why, Pieter Friedrich in his early years campaigned heavily against Gandhi, including running multiple articles against Gandhi on his website Gandhism.net.
These articles included numerous allegations of racism and pedophilia, all of them designed to smear a man more than 60 years after his assassination. The aim was to dent the image of Gandhi, therefore dent the image of India. It was also to replace the idea of non-violence which came to people’s mind whenever they thought of India to something more dark and sinister.
Khalistanis have moved on to psychological and information warfare now that actual terrorism and militancy is no longer viable for them. Now that there is a severe lack of support for Khalistan in Indian Punjab, Khalistanis have to engage in information war and psyops in order to propagandize people into supporting Khalistan. However, the K-2 dream of Khalistanis like Bhinder still lives on. That is why they are still working towards it, in whatever way they can, through the numerous illicit methods in order to raise funds for their distant dream of Khalistan.
OFMI has targeted various Hindu leaders in the USA, the most prominent being Anti-War Progressive politician Tulsi Gabbard. Multiple hashtags were trended on Twitter against Tulsi Gabbard by OFMI activists and Pieter Friedrich personally. Multiple allegations were levelled at Tulsi by Friedrich, including accusing Tulsi Gabbard of being a ‘Russian agent’, a laughably false accusation with no basis in reality.
However such baseless allegations did not prevent The Wire and The Caravan to publish a Hinduphobic smear piece on Tulsi Gabbard written by none other than Pieter Friedrich. OFMI even ran paid advertisements in Hawaii, Tulsi’s home state, in order to campaign against her. We can assume the funding for this ad campaign against Tulsi came from Bhinder’s Khalistani money.
Not just Tulsi Gabbard, OFMI and Pieter Friedrich targeted other Hindu or generally pro-India politicians like Sri Preston Kulkarni, Ami Bera, Sonal Shah, Padma Kuppa & Raja Krishnamoorthi. Now that we are aware of OFMI’s and Pieter’s very credible Khalistani and ISI connections, we can assume that all the Hindu politicians which were targets of Pieter and OFMI were targets of a Khalistani smear operation which was designed to go after any pro-India U.S. politician.
No good Khalistani operation can go on without paying some respect to their masters, Pakistan. After the Pulwama attack, Pieter pushed a conspiracy theory that India was somehow involved in it. Obviously, this was because of Pieter’s natural inclination to shield his partner Bhinder’s ISI employers. Deflecting blame from Pakistan or Islamism is a feature of Pieter and OFMI, not a bug.
Pieter and Bhinder co-wrote a ‘book’ about the Kabul Gurudwara massacre, in which they attempt to deflect the blame to India, by seemingly justifying ISIS’s reason for attacking the Gurudwara. It is particularly eye-opening that Bhinder, a Khalistani who supposedly cares for the ‘interests’ of Sikhs, has no problem trying to eyewash Islamist terrorism against Sikhs because it goes against his narrative which is that India is evil.
The modus operandi of Bhajan Singh Bhinder, from a literal gun carrying Khalistani and ISI operative to a George Soros-like figure, funding the enemies of India behind the scenes, the evolution of Bhinder is nothing to sneeze at. Bhinder is an original Khalistani, who still holds on to that anger from 1984, and will dedicate his entire life against India. Every move that Bhinder made in the 90s, overtaking the Fremont Gurudwara, establishing drug routes, revenues from DVD piracy, all of it was geared towards raising wealth and capital to be later used against India.
Bhinder cultivated an ecosystem with his own publishing company, transporting company, NGOs etc. in order to ensure the success of his long term asset Pieter Friedrich. The operation was brilliant in many ways, it was self-sustaining and felt somewhat organic. By all accounts, Pieter was well ingratiated into the Indian online liberal class and if it was not for the toolkit, maybe the Khalistani connection would have never come to light.
A severe investigation is now the need of the hour in order to sniff out any other subversive elements which might have well-settled themselves into the Indian liberal media class. The unmasking of Pieter was somewhat of a coincidence. Who is is to say that there aren’t any other subversive elements masking themselves as a ‘South Asian analyst’.