Pak Nuclear-experts close to al-Qaeda

Times of India

Intelligence Digest / by Glenmore Trenear-Harvey /

Apr 4 2005

Apr 3. Pakistani nuclear scientists A Q Khan and Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood had held meetings with Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, exchanged letters with militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and attended their gatherings and rallies, a media report said.

"When the CIA searched (Sultan Bashiruddin) Mehmood's UTN (Umma Tameere-Nau) office in Kabul, they found large amounts of data on the construction and maintenance of nuclear weapons from the Kahuta laboratories. It also found letters exchanged between the UTN and Islamist extremist organisations including Lashkar-e-Toiba," a report in Pakistani weekly Friday Times said.

Mehmood, a close confidante of A Q Khan and a former director of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, was arrested on October 23, 2001, at the headquarters of the UTN which he had set up for "humanitarian work in Afghanistan", it said. Quoting the famed journal Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the article said Khan and Mehmood and other scientists of his organisation "attended Lashkar-e-Toiba gatherings".

Khan also appeared in the rallies of the LeT... ... headed by Hafeez Saeed. The militant outfit, which later changed its name to Jamaat al-Dawaa after being banned, "is alleged to have helped in equipping al-Qaeda with 'dirty' bombs," the article said.

Mehmood and Khan were also known to have held meetings with top Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, the paper said.

It said Mehmood "may have been a genius, but he was crazy in his religious zeal" and had a firm belief that plutonium enrichment in Pakistan "should not be kept secret and should be passed around to Islamic countries to challenge Israel and the West. He also had expert knowledge of the global nuclear black market". After his arrest, Mehmood had denied he had ever met bin Laden. However, after months of questioning "he admitted to having met Osama, Al Zawhiri and other al-Qaeda members repeatedly, including on the day al-Qaeda struck in New York (9/11)"




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