Shahidur Rehman International Herald Tribune | January 6, 2011
ISLAMABAD: There was no AQ Khan nuclear proliferation network; there were only Western suppliers of nuclear wares. This is borne out by the report submitted recently by a Swiss Magistrate into the affairs of three members of Tinner family. The report has spelt out that there was as such no AQ Khan network but several members of the so-called network (actually suppliers) were collaborating with CIA and MI6. The report submitted by a Swiss Magistrate into the affairs of three members of Tinner family last month has spelt out in words what previous accounts of Dr. A.Q. Khan saga had stated between the lines i.e. - several members of the so-called network were collaborating with CIA and MI6. It has been established beyond doubt that three Tinners,- father Frederick Tinner and his two sons Marco and Urs Tinners were working for CIA at least since 2000 till Dr. Khan’s fall from high pedestal on February 4, 2004 on charges of proliferation to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Magistrate Andreas Muller has recommended that charges be brought against three Tinners for violation of Swiss laws and obstructing justice. “They massively interfered in the wheels of justice,” the judge said. Muller had investigated proliferation activities of Tinners for four years and the reports that a huge drove of documents and electronic files including allegedly “a highly sophisticated Pakistani bomb design” were destroyed by the Swiss authorities on pressure from CIA. Tinners played a central role in Pakistan’s nuclear program since its inception in the 1970’s till the disgraceful fall of Dr. Khan in February 2004. In February 2008 when Swiss President had acknowledged that document and files relating to Tinners have been destroyed by Swiss authorities, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman had regretted that while the design is being stated of Pakistani origin, Pakistan government was never taken into confidence. Dr. Khan had told Kyodo News Agency that the destruction of the documents wiped out some proof that would have proved that he was innocent of the wrongdoing heaped on his doorstep. The observations by the Swiss judge about CIA’s complicity in the whole affair has partially vindicated the stance taken by Pakistan government and Dr. Khan. The whole story of how CIA carried out several sting operations to bring down Dr. Khan and who played a role in it would be brought out once Tinners go on trial. More facts about Tinners and CIA have been promised by David Albright of Washington-based ISIS who has promised to shortly release a preliminary assessment of CIA Recruitment of the Tinners. The recruitment of Tinners by CIA to spy on Dr. Khan is not surprising because without his double deals, Frederick Tinner would not have managed to proliferate for at nearly three decades. Frederick Tinner was manager of Cora Engineering company in the picturesque Chur Valley in Switzerland from whom Khan had brought a key component for enrichment plant at Kahuta in 1976 and almost all the books about Pakistan’s nuclear program written in the 1980’s and 1990’s have talked about Dr. Khan visit to Cora Engineering in 1976, in graphic details. According to “Islamic Bomb” published in 1982, Dr. Khan had ordered “ a major component,-a gasification and solidification unit to feed uranium hexafluoride gas into the centrifuges, and then to transform it back into a solid at the end of the centrifuge process,” from Cora Engineering in 1976. In 2004 when Dr. Khan saga broke out, Frederick Tinner was operating a workshop and a company in Dubai and his son Urs Tinner was manager of the factory in Malaysia which was manufacturing the components for Centrifuge meant for the Libyan program. The factory in Malaysia was owned by a Sri Lankan national B.S.A. Tahir who has been dubbed as Dr. Khan’s deputy and Chief Financial Officer of the so-called Khan network. “Dr. Khan used to call him son and Tahir called him pa. He was the son that Khan never had,” Gordon Correra has said in his book “shopping for Bombs.” For once Dr. Khan has concurred with Correra. The components of centrifuge that were seized on a ship BBC-China on October 4, 2003 was the turning point in Dr. Khan Saga. The components were sent by Urs Tinner in four consignments to Dubai from where they were to be dispatched to Libya. After sending the last consignment to Dubai, Urs Tinner removed the information about himself and drawings of the component from computer and disappeared. He was finally arrested in Switzerland with two other Tinners, who were released in 2008 under US pressure. According to NYT report dated April 25, 2008 CIA paid up to $ 10 million to Tinners, “some of it delivered in a suitcase stuffed with cash.” But Tinners were not the only three members of the so-called network working for CIA and MI6. In 2004 when CIA and MI6 agents had visited Malaysia they could not conveniently find Urs Tinner and only interviewed Tahir. According to Tahir, his company had manufactured the components on order from a Dubai-based company owned by a British national Peter Griffin- dubbed conveniently as another member of the so-called network. Dr. Khan has accused Peter Griffin of working for MI6. After Dr. Khan’s proliferation activities came to light, Peter Griffin was widely reported as a member of the alleged network. Peter Griffin sued Guardian newspaper and BBC for reporting that he had signed the contract for supply of centrifuges. He claimed that he had supplied machines that ended up in Libya to B.S.A. Tahir and that Tahir used his company’s name by counterfeiting the stationary of his company to fabricate the sub-contract deal. He ended up in getting sizeable amounts from both the media organizations (?). What is surprising is the fact that Dr. Khan’s acquaintance with Peter Griffin also goes back to his 1976 shopping trip to Europe. Peter Griffin is mentioned by name, by the Islamic Bomb. (published in 1982). Another member of the so-called network whose name has been mentioned only in passing was Chacha (Uncle) Mohammad Farooq, paternal uncle of B.S.A. Tahir- Chief Financial Officer of the network and Khan’s deputy. Farooq is known to have en-cashed $ 3 million check paid by the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran to the network in 1987 but surprisingly no effort has been made by the western authors of Dr. Khan saga and host of inquiry commissions to locate him. The latest report by David Albright about Libya has only mentioned erroneously that he is living in Singapore. “The Ba…d died of cancer that he deserved,” according to Dr. Khan. Farooq split with his nephew in mid-1990’s and the two were engaged in a legal row ending in a settlement paying him a hefty amount. Chacha Farooq is known to have blackmailed Tahir in 2003 on the ground that a CIA team was in Srilanka to demand his extradition. “Chacha Farooq was a CIA agent,” a 2-star general told me during a rare interview granted for my book. Dr. Khan concurred. The general said that after Dr. Khan Saga, Pakistani intelligence agencies tried to locate Chacha Farooq but it appeared that he had disappeared in thin air. There are reasons to believe that Pakistani investigators mistook Engineer Mohammad Farooq as Chacha Farooq who had contacted the Iranians in 1980’s. Foreign office spokesman Masood Khan had told a briefing on December 2003 that Iran and IAEA had provided details of two Pakistani scientists who received money for supplying used centrifuge. Let us assume that the first beneficiary was Dr. Khan but who was the second Pakistani scientists receiving money from Iran? The books about Dr. Khan Saga have reported Chahca Farooq to be major beneficiary of the money received from Iran. None of the dozen books and accounts of Dr. Khan saga has found any deposits in any Pakistani scientist account. The names given to Pakistan was that of Mohammad Farooq, uncle of B.S.A. Tahir. The over –zealot Pakistani investigators assumed it to be engineer Mohammad Farooq, director Foreign Procurement, KRL. Engineer Mohammad Farooq is the only member of KRL who is still under virtual house arrest in Rawalpindi suburb of Satellite Town. A book by David Armstrong about Dr. Khan Saga. America and the Islamic Bomb have highlighted that CIA could have wound up Khan network in 2000 when a British custom agent had tracked possible proliferation exports to Tahir in Dubai. However, MI6 station chief in Dubai forced the British Custom agent back to London. The million dollar question is not why the so-called network was not closed down in 2000 but how its members managed to stay in proliferation business for nearly three decades? All the key members of the network, Gothard Lerch, Hans Mabus, Hank Slebos besides Frederick Tinner and Peter Griffin go back to Dr. Khan’s 1976 shopping trip to Europe or his stay in Holland, Belgium and Germany. Chacha Farooq was also inducted into the business in 1977 when Bukhari (full name not available) father of B.S.a. Tahir was encouraged by Dr. Khan to set up a company to supply wares to Pakistani nuclear program. The role played by CIA n bringing about Dr. Khan’s fall has been touched upon by several other books and commissions.
On February 5, 2004, a day after Dr. Khan’s disgraceful fall, CIA chief George Tenet concluded his speech at the Georgetown University with “one final story” about Dr. Khan. He had said:
”Last year (2003) in my annual world-wide threat testimony before Congress in an open session, I talked about the emerging threat from private proliferators specially, nuclear brokers I was cryptic about this in public, but I can tell you now that I was talking about A.Q. Khan His network was shaving years off the nuclear weapons development timelines of several states including Libya. Now as you know from news coming out from Pakistan, Khan and his network has been dealt a crushing blow, with several of his senior aids in custody… what did intelligence have to do with this? First we discovered the extent of Khan’s network. We tagged the proliferators. We detected the network stretching from Pakistan to Europe to the Middle East to Asia, offering its wares to countries like North Korea and Iran. We were inside his residence, inside his facilities, inside his rooms. We were everywhere these people were.”
George Tenet has said in his Memoirs that on his second last day in office as CIA Chief, he walked down to a room in the CIA building at Langley to pin a medal on the man who had brought down Dr. Khan. Tenet has not given the name of the officer but most probably, it was Rolf Mowit Larson, director Operation CIA. Mowit is a Jew and in Hebrew his name means Death. Probably, he was the second person who had accompanied CIA Chief George Tenet to his meetings with Musharraf on December 1, 2002 in Islamabad and on September 2003, in New York. As a result of the December 1 meeting, Musarraf detained two Pakistani nuclear scientists Bashir uddin Mehmood and Abdul Majid who were interrogated by CIA and American nuclear scientists while the second meeting triggered the investigation against Dr. Khan that finally led to his downfall. Both Tenet and Ron Suskind have given graphic details of the two meetings of the CIA chief with Musharraf. However, a paragraph in Suskind’s book about the meeting speaks loudly of the stuff our leaders are made of. “Everyone rose. Tenet left a packet with a list of demands” Suskind has reported in “THE ONE PERCENT DOCRINE.” What was in the packet? I will like to ask of former President Musharraf. I hope it was not a packet containing one hundred dollars note that Tenet has said he left behind in several brief cases that he gave to people who had provided tips in the war on terror. After Musharraf resigned as President, I had the opportunity to met him at Army House. My meeting with him turned sour when I asked him why he had to meet CIA Chief and agents without any aide. He flatly refused that he met CIA chief or CIA agents alone. “What about December 1, 2002 meeting at the Presidency at which George Tenet asked for arrest of Bashir uddin Mehmood and another Pakistani nuclear scientist?” I asked. “Who was Bashir uddin Mehmood,” Musharraf asked quizzically. That was the end of my interview with him. My requests seeking another interview from him in London or Duabi has evoked no response. While the details of CIA operations to bring down Dr. Khan have remained secret and bulk of its details would remain so, the best compliments to CIA and its agents in bringing down Dr. Khan could be discerned from a paragraph in the report of “The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of United States regarding the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). The Commission was set up by Bush Administration after 9/11 and presented its report in 2005. The Commission hailed CIA operations against Dr. Khan as third biggest CIA success since the Second World War. It observed that
“Human intelligence serves policy-makers by providing a unique window into our target’s most guarded intentions, plans and programs. During the Cold War, intelligence from GRU Colnol Oleg Penkovosky proved critical to our management and eventual restoration of the Cuban Missile crisis. Later, Polish Colnol Ruszard Kukilinsky provided us with highly secret war plans of the Soviet Union. The recent penetration of Dr.A.Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation network is another example of an impressive human intelligence achievement. …. The intelligence community learnd through what former DCI George Tenet correctly described as “Operation Daring” that the Khan network was the source of Libya’s procurement of a nuclear weapon design. Further information about the details of these efforts is classified and cannot be discussed in classified setting.”
According to another CIA agent Valerie Palme, who shared room with the group against Terrorist WMD, CIA had launched an innovative operation code-named 'Operation Daring' against the CIA. Plame had given some context to the innovative CIA program by reproducing some extracts from George Tenet and outlining CIA counter-terrorism center activities.
The names of foreign agents of CIA and MI6 spying on Pakistan’s nuclear program are cropping up in western media. However, there have been stories of influential people in Pakistani nuclear establishment working for the western intelligence agencies. Dr. Khan and his associates have named people but obviously what they say is tainted with bias. The million dollar question is if the Pakistani nuclear establishment could be ever purged of these people? Dr. Khan had fallen from his pedestal on February 4, 2004 and new facts have emerged about his alleged proliferation activities. Surprisingly, several lies in the meantime have been exposed. “There was no proliferation network. The term was given currency by western intelligence and western media and our media also jumped on the western media bandwagon,” Tasneem Aslam, former spokesman of Foreign Office who handled media query in the wake of Dr. Khan Saga told me in her farewell meeting. It was said that Dr. Khan proliferated for money. However, almost all the accounts of Dr. Khan Saga have found that Dr. Khan did not attend any of the meeting with Iranian Atomic Energy officials in 1987 and 1994 which led to the supply of discarded Pakistani centrifuges to Iran. “If I proliferated for money than why Musharraf sent General Kidwai and his wife to my house with money to overcome financial problems and fixed my pension,” Dr. Khan had been telling his critics. During Khan Saga, at least 27 members of KRL were debriefed. Those who were taken into custody were asked to write down the names of all their relatives. The bank accounts of all these relatives were investigated. A 2-star general who investigated Dr. Khans alleged proliferation activities told me that the biggest account discovered was one million dollars I held by his daughter Dina Khan in a bank in Dubai. The general said that Dina Khan had explained that the money was her share from the inheritance that her grandmother had left for her in her inheritance. Dr.Khan’s mother-in-law had died in Islamabad and rests in a graveyard in Islamabad. Dina also disclosed to author in a meeting in Dubai that some of the amount came from the sale of her apartment in London. “Dr Khan was brought down as a result of a sting operation, one big sting operation having several smaller sting operations within,” a former aide of Dr. Khan believed. He pointed out that it has been established beyond doubt by people like Samual Hersh and Ron Suskind that BBC-China was a sting operation by several western intelligence agencies. There was no network. There were only western suppliers. At some point and time, they also started supplying the same ware that they were supplying to Pakistan to Iran and Libya, Dr. Khan has maintained. However, he has conceded that he was aware that the western suppliers were fueling the Iranian and Libyan nuclear programs. “When people who make bombs meet, they talk about bombs,” he said and added “ What was I expected to do. Ring the American Embassy ask for CIA mission chief and say”Hey, this is Dr. Khan. I want to tell you about some companies selling nuclear wares to Iran and Libya.” Dr. Khan opined that the design that the design of P-1 centrifuge and the so-called Pakistani device that he is alleged to have delivered to Iran and Libya could have been collected by CIA-MI6 from western suppliers and their agents and portrayed as result of his proliferation activities. As for example, in his confession to Pakistan government, Dr. Khan had named Benazir Bhutto’s military advisor General Imtiaz and her dentist Dr. Niazi to have asked him to provide the centrifuges to Iran. His words were not believed but David Albright has conceded in his latest article about Libya that the role of Dr. Niazi in the initial shipments resulting from 1987 meeting cannot be ruled out. *Shahidur Rehman has authored a book about Pakistan’s nuclear program “Long Road to Chaghai’ in 1999 and another book “Horrible examples,- Z.A. Bhutto. A.Q. Khan and Iranian Nuclear program” is being published.