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Pakistani Nuclear Scientists:

How Much Nuclear Assistance to Al Qaeda?

By David Albright and Holly Higgins

August 30, 2002

A shorter version of this assessment was published in the March/April 2003 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Click here to open the Bulletin website in a new window.

Acting on an American request, Pakistani authorities on October 23, 2001 "detained for questioning" two well-respected Pakistani nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudiri Abdul Majeed. After retiring from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), they established Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), Reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah, a non-governmental organization whose stated mission was to conduct relief work and investment in Afghanistan.

Their detention stemmed from connections between their group, the Taliban regime, and al Qaeda. The concern was that the scientists used the cover of their organization to help al Qaeda develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. President George W. Bush announced on December 20, 2001 the addition of UTN, Mahmood, and Majeed to the list of organizations and individuals supporting terrorists. According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House at the time of this announcement, UTN directors and members met several times in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders and discussed the development of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Mahmood also provided information about the infrastructure needed for a nuclear weapon program and the effects of nuclear weapons.

Pakistani officials have regularly stated that the two scientists lacked the specific scientific know-how to help al Qaeda build nuclear weapons. "For that kind of operation you need dozens and dozens of people and millions of dollars," a senior member of the PAEC told The Mercury News.1 The officials continued: "That sort of technology transfer takes 50-60 years. The chance that [the two scientists] gave the Taliban nuclear arms is zero-less than zero."

The New York Times quoted Pakistani officials who said that the case was sensitive and that official denials should not be taken at face value.2 According to the report, one Pakistani official recalled receiving instructions in the mid-1990s to deny, in official contacts with American officials, that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons, at a time when the country had already assembled nuclear bombs. "It's just one of those things you can't be absolutely straightforward about," he told the Times.

In the short term, the nuclear risk was that UTN members or colleagues would have transferred the knowledge and the wherewithal to make radiological dispersal devices or nuclear weapons, assuming in the latter case that al Qaeda acquired separated plutonium or highly enriched uranium. In the longer term, the concern was that these Pakistanis would have transferred a range of sensitive information or equipment, significantly expanding al Qaeda's nuclear capabilities.

Despite its public statements, the Pakistani government's several month detention of Mahmood and his colleagues demonstrated its determination to uncover the extent of these scientists' cooperation with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Their detention also sent a strong signal to Pakistan's nuclear establishment that the government will protect sensitive information and stop illicit exports that can advance others' nuclear weapon programs.

Who is Mahmood?

Mahmood is reported to have resigned from the PAEC in the spring of 1999 in protest of the government's willingness to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) after Pakistan conducted a series of underground tests in May 1998.3 In 1998 and 1999 Mahmood spoke and wrote widely against Pakistan joining the CTBT. He argued that signing the CTBT would impose huge political and military costs on Pakistan while providing few long-lasting rewards. In addition, in one article, he said: "If we keep developing nuclear technology on the path of self-reliance, and also extend cooperation to other countries in this field, shall we not be the gainers ultimately?"4

There was also pressure put on Mahmood to resign. The New York Times reported that the United States wanted Mahmood removed after it learned that he had sympathies for Islamic militant groups, including the Taliban.5 Mahmood was often publicly supportive of the Taliban in Pakistan and in speeches at universities said that the Taliban was a model for Pakistan.6 Even after September 11th, Mahmood remained supportive of the Taliban, addressing a gathering of intellectuals in mid-October 2001 where he proposed a three-month cease-fire to resolve the situation in Afghanistan.

Senior Pakistani officials reportedly were concerned because Mahmood had been vocally advocating extensive production of weapon-grade plutonium and uranium to help equip other Islamic nations with these materials. He termed Pakistan's nuclear capability as "the property of a whole Ummah [Muslim community]."7 Pakistani intelligence officials viewed his continuation as head of Khushab as dangerous, the Washington Post reported.8

This version of the reason for his retirement is supported by information gained through his interrogation during his detention and his own post-interrogation statements. According to the Washington Post, when questioned by Pakistani officials, Mahmood said he became disillusioned with the Pakistani government when the Pakistan intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), recommended his transfer from the sensitive position of the director of the Khushab reactor to a desk job in March 1999.9 The Washington Post report also quotes a family friend of Mahmood as saying that Mahmood felt betrayed by the government he had long-served.10 In an interview in March 2002, Mahmood said he "was dislodged from all projects and retired."11

Illustrious Nuclear Career. Before retiring, Mahmood had a long career in Pakistan's nuclear program and held a variety of senior positions. The Associated Press reported on October 24, 2001 that officials in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said Mahmood had been a director for the nation's nuclear program and remained in key positions until his retirement. Articles about Mahmood credit him with making significant contributions to Pakistan's uranium enrichment and reactor programs.

Mahmood studied nuclear engineering in Britain in the 1960s. After graduating with a masters degree, he returned to Pakistan despite lucrative offers to remain abroad.

A report in the Times of India said that Mahmood came to prominence after he developed a technique in the 1970s to detect heavy water leaks in steam pipes at the Canadian-supplied Knapp nuclear power reactor near Karachi.12 The device is patented in Canada in his name and known worldwide under his initials as the "SBM Probe," according to the article. These devices are described in an report published by Mahmood in 1979 that is listed on the International Atomic Energy Agency's INIS database of technical and scientific articles.

The INIS database also lists technical articles by Mahmood on electric motors used in radiation environments. Pakistani media reports list additional papers by him in the field of quality assurance, transfer of technologies, and project management.

His son told the British newspaper The Guardian that his father wept after India conducted an underground nuclear test in 1974 and vowed to make Pakistan an atomic power.13 A few months after India's test, the Guardian wrote, President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto called a meeting of his best nuclear scientists to discuss Pakistan's reaction. Although Mahmood attended as a junior scientist, he argued strenuously to build nuclear weapons and recommended buying necessary items through a secret program.

Mahmood worked on Pakistan's secret gas centrifuge program that ultimately produced the highly enriched uranium (HEU) used in Pakistan's nuclear weapons. In publications, he is credited with playing a pioneering role in establishing the uranium enrichment project in Pakistan.14 Subsequently, Abdul Qadeer Khan took over and is known as the father of Pakistan's uranium enrichment program.

Mahmood's most prestigious assignment was designing the Khushab reactor, which went critical in April 1998. In an article he co-authored with Muhammad Nasim and published in January 2000 in the Pakistani newspaper The Nation and on Pakistan Link, Mahmood identified himself as the Chief Designer and Director of the Khushab, or alternatively spelled Khoshab, atomic reactor. This unsafeguarded reactor project depended extensively on illicit procurement from several countries. It can make enough plutonium for about 2-3 nuclear weapons per year. In this same article, Mahmood said that with the operation of the Khushab reactor, Pakistan had "acquired the capability to produce the boosted thermonuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs."

He ended his career as Director for Nuclear Power at the PAEC. For his outstanding contributions to Pakistan's nuclear program, he was awarded the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz award by the President of Pakistan in March 1999. He also received a gold medal from the Pakistan Academy of Sciences.

Fascination with the Occult. Mahmood had a bizarre fascination with the occult and wrote a series of controversial reports based on pseudo-science. In 1987, for example, he published a 232-page treatise "Doomsday and Life After Death-The Ultimate Fate of the Universe as Seen Through the Holy Quran." This collection based on Islamic teachings included a chapter where Mahmood seeks to explain scientifically how the world will end and theorizes that his "scientific mind can work backward and analyze the actual mechanism…of the great upheaval before the Earth's Doomsday."15

In Mahmood's Cosmology and Human Destiny, published in 1998, he misused statistics to argue that sunspot activity has influenced human behavior and historical events, such as the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and World War II.16 He concluded that governments across the world "are already being subjected to great emotional aggression under the catalytic effect of the abnormally high sunspot activity under which they are most likely to adapt aggression as the natural solution for their problems."17

According to Farhatullah Babar, a friend and media advisor of the Pakistan Peoples' Party, Mahmood had predicted in Cosmology and Human Destiny that "the year 2002 was likely to be a year of maximum sunspot activity. It means upheaval, particularly on the Indian subcontinent, with the possibility of nuclear exchanges."18 One passage of the book is reported to say: "At the international level, terrorism will rule; and in this scenario use of mass destruction weapons cannot be ruled out. Millions, by 2002, may die through mass destruction weapons, hunger, disease, street violence, terrorist attacks, and suicide."

Mahmood also believes in Djinnis, or genies, described in the Holy Quron as beings made of fire. He has written papers suggesting that these entities could be tapped to solve the energy crisis.

Follower of Israr Ahmad Mahmood is a devout follower of Dr. Israr Ahmad, a prominent pro-Taliban radical Islamic cleric.19 Mahmood was so impressed by Ahmad that he reportedly appointed him the patron of UTN.20

Ahmad advocates the creation of a "true Islamic state" and rejects Western constitutional and democratic models. After September 11th, Ahmad was one of the leaders of pro-Taliban, anti-U.S. demonstrations and other activities against the overthrow of the Taliban regime. In early October 2001, he announced that Afghanistan would prove a graveyard for the United States.21

Ahmad is the "Ameer," or spiritual leader, of Tanzeem-e-Islami. Members must pledge obedience to him, an act that he says himself is not found in other comparable Islamic revivalist movements. Ahmad has been popular for years in Pakistan, spreading his message through frequent addresses to his congregation in Lahore. He received the distinguished Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1981, and he has written over 60 Urdu books on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, nine of which have been translated into English. His organization's web site contains many of his preachings.

Since Mahmood's detention, Ahmad has been relatively taciturn about Mahmood. In the winter of 2002, he told the Washington Post that Mahmmood is "a practicing Muslim."22 He added that the Pakistani authorities went after Mahmood only to please the Americans.

Ahmad, like Mahmood, has been openly critical of Pakistan signing the CTBT. Ahmad told his congregation in Lahore, according to an October 22, 1999 press release of Tanzeem, that the CTBT "must not be signed/ratified at any cost." In a press release dated January 21, 2000, he said that the issue of the CTBT is dividing the nation into two camps, one composed of religious elements and the other made up of "secularists" who seek the "protecting umbrella" of the United States, the global superpower. The former, Ahmad said, includes Mahmood.

Ahmad was involved in creating a political coalition of religious parties opposing the CTBT. The coalition's first meeting, which was chaired by Ahmad, adapted a resolution that said that the CTBT was a conspiracy against the sovereignty and security of Pakistan and amounted to a transgression of the injunctions of the Quran and Sunnat.23 Mahmood spoke at the first meeting, according to the coalition's press release.

Disagreements about the CTBT are not in themselves an issue. They have been widespread and explain why the treaty is still not in force. However, Ahmad's, and by implication Mahmood's, rationale for opposing the CTBT is radical. Similarly, Ahmad's views on Pakistani nuclear weapons, the Taliban, and the international community are extreme. Press releases of Tanzeem-e-Islami from 1999-2001 that are found on its web site provide a disturbing context for Mahmood's and UTN's work in Pakistan.24

On Pakistan's nuclear capability, Ahmad said in 1999 and 2000:

  • "The world is approaching a state of affairs whereby the entire Western world will invade the heart of Islamic world (i.e. the Arab world) in order to protect Israel - a rehearsal of which was witnessed in the Gulf War. At this crucial juncture in history, in light of the Prophetic traditions, it will be none other than Pakistan and Afghanistan which will rise to the occasion and defend the Islamic world. Indeed, this is the main objective behind our emergence as a nuclear power. Who knows, perhaps, it was for preparation of this very stage that the Divine Scheme in its infinite wisdom has brought the Armed forces of Pakistan at the forefront to defend the Islamic cause!" (October 22, 1999 press release)
  • "Pakistan must preserve and develop nuclear weapons technology because developing military power to deter enemies is a clear Qur'anic imperative. He said that Pakistan's nuclear capability does not belong to only one country but it is actually the collective trust of the entire Muslim Ummah and must therefore be closely guarded and carefully preserved…The Jews and Christians have teamed up against the Muslims, and giving up the nuclear option under these circumstances would be to betray the interest of the Ummah." (January 28, 2000 press release)
  • "In the event of any U.S. ban in terms of economic sanctions and defence supply, Pakistan should allow Muslim countries to have access to our nuclear technologies in return of funds needed for national development." (Oct 15, 1999 press release)
  • Referring to conflicts with India in Kashmir in 1999, "the best policy that Pakistan could adopt now would be to end the ongoing tension and to achieve a compromise with India based on the following principle: If India withdraws her forces from Siachin then Pakistan would persuade the Mujahideen to withdraw from Kargil. Thereafter, both countries should try to find a solution to the Kashmir issue by means of dialogue and negotiations. Otherwise, there is a strong probability that we might lose our nuclear capability that is a great cause of anxiety for the world Zionism and her stooges and allies." (June 25, 1999 press release)

On the Taliban and Afghanistan, Ahmad said in 1999 and 2000:

  • "There should be a show of total cooperation and unity with the Taliban government of Afghanistan and no regard or credence should be given to any nefarious policies and evil schemes against it." (October 22, 1999 press release)
  • "Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world that have the potential to become the starting point for the global ascendancy of Islam…If the two countries could come together, they would be able to compliment each other and would therefore lay the foundations of a model Islamic System." (December 29, 2000 press release)

On the issue of the impending UN sanctions in early 2001 on Afghanistan, Ahmad said:

  • "The world of disbelief is becoming united against the Taliban Government and it appears that the United Nations is going to implement full economic sanctions against Afghanistan…If this happens it would be a serious trial for the Afghan people as well as for Pakistan. If necessary, Pakistan must rebel against the United Nations and must not participate in any economic sanctions against Afghanistan. Instead, it should continue to help its Muslim neighbor by any means possible. Pakistan and Afghanistan should come together as this would lay down the foundations for global Islamic ascendancy." (January 5, 2001 press release)
  • "In this difficult time we all must support and assist our Muslim neighbor…In response to his appeal for monetary donations on Eid day and the following Friday, more than one million rupees were collected and handed over to the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad…Tanzeem-e-Islami has opened a separate bank account for this cause, and appealed that funds for helping the Taliban Government of Afghanistan be deposited in that account." (January 12, 2001 press release)

On the subject of terrorist activities of bin Laden and the Taliban, he said in early 2001:

  • "There is no proof against the Taliban Government of any subversive or terrorist activity; as for the issue of Usama bin Laden, the Taliban Government has been asking the U.S. to supply evidence about his involvement in terrorist activities so that he could be tried in an Afghan court, but no evidence has been forthcoming." (January 5, 2001 press release)

With regard to economic sanctions on Pakistan imposed because of its nuclear capability and testing, he said in 1999:

"All our energies in the economic sphere should not be spent in worrying about how we will pay back the enormous debts owed to the financial institutions of the world. Instead, a demand to adopt other means of payments such as "Debt Equity Swap" should be put forth to these world bodies; alternatively, a "Defaulter" status is also a viable solution and we should not, just out of fear, shun this possibility." (October 22, 1999 press release)

At a seminar on "economic revival" in May 2001, Ahmad said that Pakistan should forthwith abolish interest-based economy and refuse to return foreign loans.25 At the same seminar, Mahmood called for an early declaration of default on the foreign loans.

Who is Majeed?

Less is known about Majeed. He is reported to have retired in 2000 after a long and successful career in the Nuclear Materials Division of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) at Rawalpindi. He was also at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy during the 1970s or early 1980s.

He was reported by the Associated Press on October 24, 2001 to have received training in Belgium at a plutonium facility in the 1960s. CNN and NBC reported that he was associated with New Labs at Rawalpindi that was involved in separating plutonium for nuclear weapons.26 In addition, he is an expert in nuclear fuels, according to the U.S. government.

He published extensively in the 1980s and 1990s on nuclear detectors and the use of x-ray diffraction, fluorescence, and crystallography to study a wide variety of materials and elements, including stainless steel, uranium, and thorium.

Who Else Was Detained?

Media reports state that all seven members of UTN's board of directors were detained on October 23, 2001. The New York Times reported November 1, 2001 that one of those detained was Mirza Yusef Baig. According to NBC, quoting Mirza Baig's nephew, Baig was an industrialist with the largest foundry in Pakistan.27 Baig had extensive ties with the Taliban regime and several contracts to build schools, hospitals, government buildings, and a flour mill in Afghanistan.

Other members of UTN's board, who were detained, are reported to be Brig. (Retired) Mohammad Ali; Commodore (retired) Arshad Ali Chaudry, a retired air force commander and vice president of UTN; Humayun Niaz , a former naval officer and businessman with ties to the Sharif government and the finance director of UTN; Brig. Mohammad Hanif, a career army engineer; and Sheikh Mohammed Tufail, the owner of one of Pakistan's leading engineering companies.

Little public information could be found about these board members. However, Hanif may have been a nuclear scientist at the PAEC, based on a search of INIS.

According to several media reports, others may have been detained at the urging of the United States. USA Today for example, reported on November 15, 2001 that at least 10 of Pakistan's nuclear scientists were contacted by representatives of the Taliban government and al Qaeda during the previous two years seeking assistance to create a nuclear program inside Afghanistan.28 Several of the scientists accepted the offer, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the offers. But the scientists told the representatives that they would need Pakistani government approval to work in Afghanistan. Whether that approval was granted is unknown.

In one media report, Pakistani officials stated that the scientists had been offered jobs to develop a scientific laboratory in Afghanistan. However, they denied U.S. claims that these scientists intended to work there on nuclear weapons.29

In early December, media reports stated that two other Pakistani nuclear scientists, Suleiman Asad and Mohammed Ali Mukhtar, were wanted for questioning about their possible links to bin Laden.30 U.S. officials suspected that these two had also been involved with UTN. Reports stated that these two scientists were directly linked to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. The New York Times reported that these two had long experience at two of Pakistan's most secret nuclear installations.31

However, Pakistan told the media that, although these men were of concern to the CIA, they were unavailable. They were sent shortly after September 11 on an undisclosed research project to Myanmar, a country run by a military dictatorship with strained relations with the United States and most of the rest of the world.32 Pakistani officials said that they did not want to interrupt the scientists' work by having them return to Pakistan for questioning. But Pakistani officials also told the media that Pakistan resisted U.S. efforts to interrogate these and other scientists and engineers, because the government feared that the United States was using these security concerns as a pretext to learn secrets about Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.

Concern about additional Pakistani nuclear scientists continued into the summer of 2002. The Wall Street Journal reported in June 2002 that U.S. officials said that they were very worried about two Pakistani scientists.33 Whether these scientists were Asad or Mukhtar is unknown, because these officials refused to name them. The officials did say that the scientists mentioned in the Wall Street Journal were veterans of Pakistan's nuclear weapons complex and associates of Mahmood and Majeed. One of them was already suspected of trying to sell weapon designs to unsavory customers.

The United States did not have any information about whether these two scientists had ever traveled to Afghanistan. Nonetheless, U.S. analysts still worried that these scientists had somehow passed information on building nuclear weapon secrets to al Qaeda.34

What Was Found in Kabul

Suspicion about Mahmood and others at UTN increased after the fall of the Taliban on November 13, 2001, and coalition forces and the media searched UTN offices in Kabul. The searches of these houses, located in the wealthiest suburb of Kabul, revealed records that the charity did help Afghanistan with educational material, road building, and flour mills. But the records found in these buildings also demonstrated that UTN was studying weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The first revelations about UTN's WMD activities followed visits to its headquarters and subsidiary offices in Kabul. Members of the media appear to have been among the first to visit UTN's headquarters in Kabul that also served as Mahmood's residence while he was in Kabul.

Interest in Anthrax. At these houses, there were documents and drawings that suggest someone was very interested in biological weapons, even in designing a crude system for delivering anthrax by balloon.

Among the documents found by CNN and other media organizations was an unclassified 1997 U.S. draft environmental assessment titled, "Renovation of Facilities and Increased Anthrax Vaccine Production and Testing at the Michigan Biologic Products Institute" by the Joint Program Office for Biologic Defense under contract to SAIC in Frederick, Maryland. A reader had written several stars in the top left corner of the cover page, implying that he thought the report was significant. The report contains sections on anthrax, the disease, its threat, the vaccine, production issues, and immunization.

This report is related to the production of anthrax vaccine at the Lansing, Michigan facility for the U.S. military. It is not a document on how to make anthrax spores. The reason why the document was at this house is unclear.

One reason may be related to another document found at the house called, "The Biologic Warfare: An Imminent Danger," of which hundreds of copies were found in the house. This four-page leaflet is a paranoid diatribe accusing the United States of planning to conduct a campaign of biological warfare against the international Muslim community, using anthrax. Part of the evidence cited in the document is the vaccination of U.S. troops against anthrax and the expansion of anthrax vaccination production under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense, purportedly in advance of anthrax attacks on the Ummah.

Mahmood concluded in the fall of 2002 that Taliban soldiers fighting against the Northern Alliance had been exposed to chemical and biological weapons supplied by the United States, based on information from doctors at a Kandahar hospital.35 According to his information, U.S. and British experts were even training the Northern Alliance in the use of chemical and biological weapons.36 In this media report, he denied that Afghanistan had an anthrax factory, charging that "military sources" fabricated this story so that in the case of an anthrax attack on Afghanistan, "the impact could be attributed" to emissions from this factory. He called for NGOs to "come and help the Afghan nation against such an attack."

Strong suspicions remain that one of Mahmood's responses to his "information" was to support the study of the offensive use of biological or chemical weapons. Evidence that the documents served more sinister purposes than defensive ones includes a series of illustrations scrawled over a white board mounted on plasterboard and running the length of the wall of a room in UTN's headquarters in Kabul. The diagrams appear to show how high-altitude balloons could be used to spread anthrax spores or cyanide.37

Other documents found in the house contained detailed information about anthrax. One document was the first page of a U.S. military web site aimed at informing veterans of the Persian Gulf War about illnesses they may have contracted. This site also contains information about the use of anthrax as a weapon.

According to the Evening Standard, a computer disk held a picture showing former Defense Secretary William Cohen holding a small bag of sugar, which he said is roughly the amount of biological agent that could kill half the population of Washington, DC. On the floor was a small bag of white powder. This bag evidently did not contain anthrax or any other biological agents, however,

Some of the anthrax-related papers had been copied many times. This fact and the organization of specific rooms imply that the house was used to give lectures.

In addition, the house contained boxes of gas masks and many containers of chemicals. A second-floor workshop, where many of the documents were located, contained a disassembled rocket with solid propellant and a cylinder labeled "helium."

Link to Terrorist Groups. Ingrid Arnesen, a senior CNN producer who visited many UTN and al Qaeda houses in Afghanistan, found documents linking UTN to terrorist groups. At UTN offices, she found literature that established a link between UTN and Jaish al Muhammad, the Army of the Prophet Mohammad. This group was active in Kashmir and was outlawed in Pakistan in the spring of 2002. She also found inside the main UTN office a decal celebrating the bombing of the USS Cole.

Baracat Trading. CNN personnel found a set of documents describing a wide-range of UTN's activities in an office off the dreary lobby of Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel. The office had been occupied by the Baracat Islami Investment General Trading and Contracting Co. Ltd. (BTC) and had been locked and abandoned before the fall of the Taliban. Intelligence sources told CNN that this office was a branch of the Barakat network, which the United States has suspected of laundering money for al Qaeda and as a result has frozen its assets.

In this office, CNN found several drafts of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UTN and BTC to establish a close working relationship to promote relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The MOU was signed at Kabul on May 15, 2001 by Ghali Atia Alshamri, President of BTC, and Mahmood, President of UTN. They agreed to establish joint projects and share office space at their respective offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also agreed to share all their financial, technical, and human resources in all disciplines such as commerce and industry, agriculture, banking and finance, health education, social welfare, communications, energy, minerals and mining, and research and development. According to the documents, BTC was working with Afghanistan's Minister of Water and Power and UTN expected that cooperation with BTC would accelerate the completion of its goals.

UTN's Public Face

Mahmood and Majeed organized UTN in June 2000 to provide relief for the people of Afghanistan and develop commercial projects relying on investment by Muslim countries. With offices in Kabul, Afghanistan and Lahore and Islamabad, Pakistan, UTN's stated mission was to focus on development, educational reform, and ways to feed the impoverished Afghan population. UTN officials also said they were guiding the Taliban on science-related matters. Mohammad Sohail Farooqi was the director of the UTN office in Kabul.

According to Mahmood, he and his colleagues developed a major plan of large-scale investment aimed at establishing industrial networks in Afghanistan.38 He said the Taliban regime had already agreed to many of its plans, including raising investments totaling about $100 million to build a dam and an oil refinery in Afghanistan. Their strategy envisioned huge projects to develop Afghanistan's energy, communication, and transportation infrastructure and to process Afghanistan's abundant natural resources for use in Pakistan. UTN's plan also called for developing final products in Pakistan. In this way, Pakistan would also have benefited economically. Mahmood bragged in late October 2001 in an interview with the weekly Nida-i-Millat, one day before his arrest, that if the United States had not attacked, Afghanistan would have developed into a strong industrial country during the next ten years.39

UTN's mission was consistent with Israr Ahmad's vision of cooperation with the Taliban regime. UTN was also apparently trying to undermine the UN embargo on the Taliban regime that was established in early 2001.

UTN was one of the few NGOs that had the approval of Mullah Omar, the Taliban head of Afghanistan. Other important Pakistani NGOs recognized by Omar were Al-Rashid Trust and Al-Akhtar Trust, both of which are suspected of having been linked to UTN.

Pakistani media reports state that Mahmood had the permission of Mullah Omar to conclude agreements with investors on projects in Afghanistan, and UTN was aggressively pursuing Pakistani investors for its projects in Afghanistan.

Mahmood was in frequent contact with the Taliban officials. In the biography attached to an article written by Mahmood about the Taliban and published in 2001, the editors state that Mahmood has been working with a team of professionals in Afghanistan for two years on different relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction projects.40 As a result, the biography says that Mahmood came in close contact with senior government officials, including Mullah Omar, prime ministers, ministers, and heads of departments. He also dealt with the civil bureaucracy to obtain approvals for his projects.

When UTN officials traveled to Afghanistan, their visas were sponsored by the Taliban's Ministry for Mines and Industry, which was directed by Mawlawi Ahmad Jan.41 NBC reported that Ahmad Jan had a long association with bin Laden. He was also the Minister of Water and Power.

UTN's many projects in Afghanistan required frequent visits by board members and justified the establishment of an office in Kabul. Western officials were becoming increasingly aware of UTN's activities. A senior UN official in Kandahar told NBC news in the fall of 2001 that UTN had business interests in Afghanistan. "They are into mining, too," the official said.42 Majeed was reported to be involved in exploring for uranium in Afghanistan.43

CNN Documents on UTN

The documents found by CNN in the offices of BTC at the Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul provide a detailed snapshot of UTN's projects in Afghanistan, including uranium mining and the development of Afghanistan's scientific and technical infrastructure. Several of the projects listed in the CNN documents are:

  • Construction of the Ummah flour mill, a 250 tonne per day flour mill which was 80 percent complete in May 2001, (and subsequently bombed in the fall of 2001);
  • Publication and printing of 90,000 text books;
  • Collection and distribution of relief goods;
  • Supply of essential medicines for major hospitals;
  • Distribution of sacrificial animals on Eid-ul-Adha, a major muslim celebration;
  • Promotion of the complementary economies of Pakistan and Afghanistan by holding workshops and facilitating visits by investors and the media;
  • Technical assistance to the Afghan government for the immediate rehabilitation of its industries and infrastructure;
  • Development of agricultural land at Dashte Zeary, Kandahar with the possible participation of the Pakistani government. By May 2001, the Ministry of Water and Power signed an agreement with UTN to develop 5,000 hectares. A total of 50,000 hectares was planned for development by UTN;
  • Improving the artificial limb-manufacturing unit in Wazir Akbar Khan Government hospital in Kabul;
  • Developing the Da Ummah Development Bank Afghanistan with the possible help of the Pakistani government; and Development of the mining of minerals, including coal, oil and gas, steel, copper, lithium, uranium, and zirconium.

In an interview published in the News on March 19, 2002, Mahmood provided a list of UTN projects and the funds raised for them.44 UTN raised 8.162 million Rupees for purchasing 1,155 sheep and 631 cows for sacrificing on Eid-ul-Adha in Afghanistan. About 17 million Rupees were raised for the flour mill. Another $10,600 was raised to renovate the war-ravaged Kabul Polytechnic Institute. To develop 5,000 hectares of land, UTN received 1.814 million Rupees.

Many of UTN's projects would have depended on large loans from investors and the Pakistani government. Based on documents found by CNN, UTN's strategy was to obtain permission from the Taliban regime for a project and then seek a loan to fund the initial stage of the project. Local companies would build the project using materials and equipment imported from or through Pakistan. In return for finishing the first stage, the government of Afghanistan would furnish UTN with cash and minerals that have a ready market, valued in one document as 150 percent of the initial investment. After selling the bartered commodities, UTN would furnish another payment to the local companies for the next stage and so on until the project is completed. Mahmood referred to this approach as "investment recycling." Such an investment strategy is consistent with Islamic economic principles advocated by UTN that oppose the use of interest on loans.

Revenues earned from the sale of the commodities would also be used to cover UTN's costs. After paying back the initial investments, any surplus revenues would represent profit for the investing parties.

In early May 2001, according to the CNN documents, Mahmood approached Pakistan's ambassador in Kabul for funding for a range of its projects, including a road project between the Chaman border crossing and Kandahar and its agricultural land development project.45 UTN proposed to work together with the Pakistani government towards rehabilitating and reconstructing Afghanistan, writing in a letter that a "joint effort of both entities (the Government of Pakistan and UTN) will be able to achieve these noble goals with extreme efficiency and accuracy." Mahmood continued that the joint work would seek "to achieve the badly needed good will of this strategic neighbor of ours. It is essential that we work together to remove and discredit the misconceptions and the animosity being planted by our enemy factions." This last phrase evidently refers to efforts to discredit the Taliban, both internationally and in Pakistan.

The amount of funding provided by the Pakistani government to UTN is not in any of the documents found by CNN. However, the documents state that UTN asked the Pakistani government for up to $500,000 as the initial investment for the road project and Rs 1.5 million for its share of an initial investment of Rs 30 million for the land development project.

In addition, the government reportedly endorsed UTN's efforts in Afghanistan.46 According to the Washington Post, Mahmood and Majeed reportedly told their interrogators that Pakistan's intelligence agency had sanctioned their charity activities and meetings with Mullah Omar.47 Mahmood has publicly denied any such connection to ISI, although not to the Pakistani government.48

Nuclear Dealings

After Mahmood and Majeed were confronted with new information discovered after the fall of the Taliban, they modified their earlier statements to their interrogators. In initial interrogations by Pakistanis and U.S. officials, according to, Mahmood denied any nuclear cooperation with bin Laden or the Taliban. He "made his interrogators believe that that there was nothing wrong in his cooperation with Osama's men and Taliban officials."49

According to the Washington Post, however, Mahmood and Majeed admitted that they had long discussions with al Qaeda officials in August 2001 about nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.50 Pakistani intelligence officials told the Washington Post that they believe that the scientists used UTN partially as a cover to conduct secret talks with bin Laden.

In a dramatic announcement on December 20, 2001, based in part on the growing evidence of UTN assistance to al Qaeda's nuclear weapons effort, President George W. Bush announced that it was adding UTN to the list of entities supporting terrorism and he ordered its assets blocked under Executive Order 13224. He also ordered the blocking of assets of three key directors of UTN-Mahmood, Majeed, and Tufail, the industrialist. Subsequently, the U.N. Security Council and many other countries, including Pakistan, ordered the freezing of the assets of the group and the three men.

According to a Fact Sheet distributed by the White House at the time of the announcement:

  • The nuclear scientists had close ties to bin Laden and the Taliban;
  • During repeated UTN visits to Afghanistan, UTN directors and members met with bin Laden, al Qaeda leaders, and Mullah Omar and discussed the development of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
  • UTN has been linked to WAFA Humanitarian Organization and Al Rashid Trust, two other NGOs with ties to al Qaeda that have been designated as supporters of terrorism under Executive Order 13224;
  • During 2001, Mahmood met with Mullah Omar and bin Laden. During a follow-up meeting where bin Laden's associate indicated he had nuclear material and wanted to know how to use it to make a weapon, Mahmood provided information about the infrastructure needed for a nuclear weapon program and the effects of nuclear weapons; and
  • After the fall of the Taliban regime, searches of UTN locations in Kabul yielded documents setting out a plan to kidnap a U.S. attaché and outlining basic nuclear physics related to nuclear weapons.

Media reports have shed further light on the meetings between UTN officials and al Qaeda. According to the Washington Post, Pakistani officials said the scientists reportedly admitted meeting with bin Laden, the Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri, and two other al Qaeda officials over two or three days in August 2001 at a compound in Kabul. The scientists described bin Laden as intensely interested in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.51

Bin Laden indicated to them that he had obtained, or had access to, some type of radiological material that he said had been acquired by the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Mahmood and Majeed reportedly told bin Laden that it would not be possible to manufacture a nuclear weapon from that material.52 They claimed they provided no material or specific plans to bin Laden, but rather engaged in wide ranging "academic" discussions, Pakistanis officials told the Washington Post.

A Pakistani official told the Washington Post, however, the scientists spoke extensively about weapons of mass destruction with bin Laden.53 This official described the scientists as "very motivated" and "extremist in their views," but added that they were "discussing things that didn't materialize, but fall under the breaking secrets act." In another media report, Pakistani officials familiar with the extensive interrogations told the Washington Post that the scientists provided detailed responses to bin Laden's technical questions about the manufacture of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.54

Al Qaeda reportedly also wanted the Pakistani scientists to help with making radiological dispersal devices (RDDs). The London Sunday Times reported in March 2002 that Farhatullah Babar, who has known Mahmood for many years, said U.S. interrogators were unable to prove that work on a RDD progressed much beyond an agreement in principle.55 Babar added that he thought Mahmood would have been willing to make a RDD, but the September attacks ended all their plans.

British officials told the Guardian that they believe that other Pakistani nuclear experts offered their expertise.56 These officials said that former Pakistani technicians from the weapons program also visited al Qaeda officials to advise them on how to build nuclear weapons.

Pakistan Decides Not to Charge the Nuclear Scientists

In late January 2002, Pakistan officials said that Pakistan decided not to press criminal charges against Mahmood and Majeed, despite concluding that the scientists violated a secrecy oath during trips to Afghanistan. The main reasons reported in the media were Pakistan's concern that a trial would cause further international embarrassment and risk disclosure of nuclear secrets.

The scientists were released from detention but agreed to remain under government control (essentially house arrest), submit to travel restrictions, and limit their communications.57 If they had been convicted of breaking their oath, they could have potentially spent seven years in prison.

Pakistani officials claimed that because the scientists were not involved in the actual production of nuclear weapons, they were not capable of providing sensitive or important information to a nuclear weapons effort by al Qaeda or the Taliban. This is an especially weak argument, however. Many illicit procurement cases, including several involving the Pakistani and Iraqi nuclear weapons programs, counter this argument.58

Taking Stock

In early March, the Washington Post revealed that Mahmood had failed a half dozen lie detector tests.59 Mahmood's public reaction to this statement and others has been to profess poor health and portray himself as a misunderstood victim.

In a public interview in March 2002, for example, Mahmood said he underwent lie detector tests several times, but he claimed: "I could never stay before the machine beyond a few minutes because of my age and health, as it was very strenuous exercise that made by blood pressure go erratic and rendered my heart unstable."60 He added that during one test, he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. In the same interview, he said he did not discuss nuclear weapons with bin Laden. He told the News that he met with bin Laden to "seek $3 million for manpower and land development projects in Afghanistan, but he refused," saying his accounts were frozen.61

Several months of investigation have left U.S. officials without a definitive explanation of what Mahmood and his colleagues were doing in Afghanistan. Did they directly provide or orchestrate the delivery of nuclear secrets to al Qaeda or were they innocent of such activity as they insist? Available evidence favors the former scenario.

U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials believe Mahmood provided nuclear assistance to al Qaeda. According to the Washington Times, the CIA refers to Mahmood as "bin Laden's nuclear secretary."62 According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official, "Mahmood's personality profile combined with his meetings with Osama bin Laden, make a lethal blend."63 In other words, Mahmood had both the motive and the means to provide significant assistance to a Taliban or al Qaeda nuclear weapons program.

In addition, UTN was dependent on the Taliban regime and indirectly on al Qaeda for the success of its projects that involved significant sums of funds and potentially large profits for its investors. At a minimum, the Taliban regime and al Qaeda had tremendous leverage on these scientists to extract assistance in their efforts to get WMD. UTN's growing dependence on the Taliban regime would have made it increasingly difficult for Mahmood and his associates to say no to Taliban and al Qaeda requests.

A more sinister interpretation is also possible. They may have decided for economic, religious, or ideological reasons to assist the Taliban and al Qaeda obtain nuclear weapons.

In the August 2001 meeting, Mahmood and his colleagues appear to have provided al Qaeda a road map to building nuclear weapons. This information is typically very helpful in understanding the steps that must be accomplished in making a nuclear weapon, identifying the necessary equipment and technology, and locating suppliers of key equipment. In addition, Mahmood and his colleagues appear to have recruited other scientists with more direct knowledge of making nuclear weapons.

Evidence is also strong that these scientists provided significant assistance to al Qaeda's efforts to make RDDs. However, the exact level of assistance remains uncertain.

It is unknown if these scientists provided enough information to allow al Qaeda to design a nuclear weapon. The scientists do not appear to have fully cooperated with the Pakistani authorities and establishing evidence of such transfer is very difficult to do in the best of circumstances.

Transfer of sensitive nuclear weapons information could have happened in many ways. The scientists could have provided direct assistance to al Qaeda's nuclear weapons program, including nuclear weapons and RDD information. They may have obtained secret documents during the course of their career that they passed to the Taliban or al Qaeda. They also could have been a "funnel" through which Pakistani nuclear weapons experts provided sensitive assistance, including documents or technical advice. The transfer of sensitive information by UTN officials or their colleagues may have occurred either in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Mahmood and his associates may have provided, or facilitated the transfer of, nuclear or nuclear-related hardware to the Taliban or al Qaeda. No public information is known about any such transfers, however.

Available evidence nonetheless supports the conclusion that this group of Pakistani nuclear scientists and colleagues had not provided the resources to enable al Qaeda to make nuclear weapons by October 2001, assuming that al Qaeda had acquired enough separated plutonium or HEU to make a nuclear explosive. Based on the evidence, Al Qaeda's nuclear weapons program was rather primitive in 2001, despite its long standing interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.

Given the immense effort required and al Qaeda's limited resources, it is highly unlikely that these scientists could have enabled al Qaeda or the Taliban to build facilities to make plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU). Foreign acquisition of plutonium or HEU would have remained necessary for many years.

UTN officials would have likely continued assisting al Qaeda with WMD after September 11th, and the type of records found in UTN's office in Kabul supports this conclusion. If the attacks on September 11th had not occurred, UTN officials would have probably provided extensive and on-going assistance to the nuclear efforts of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

One of the most threatening aspects of the involvement of the Pakistani scientists is that they could have provided the spark that ignited a successful effort by al Qaeda to build nuclear weapons. UTN officials had long experience in supervising large, complicated projects. This experience contributed to their ability to conduct their projects for the Taliban regime. These scientists could have provided experienced program management for a nuclear weapons project. In addition, they also had multiple contacts within the Pakistani nuclear community, from which they could tap a reservoir of nuclear scientists and expertise. As a result, they were well positioned to make significant contributions to an al Qaeda nuclear weapons program.

Al Qaeda was well integrated with the Taliban regime, perhaps it even dominated military matters. A nuclear weapons program would have had the characteristics of a quasi-national program. This type of program is better positioned to conduct the research and development necessary to build a crude nuclear explosive.

In addition, this type of program is likely to be more successful in obtaining sensitive items overseas than a traditional terrorist group operating in a hostile country. UTN's civilian projects may have served as a front for illicit procurement of items needed to make nuclear weapons or other WMD. With the end-user sanctioned as civilian by the Taliban government, sensitive items could have been more easily imported into Afghanistan.

UTN officials may have had another advantage. The success of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program depended on extensive illicit foreign procurement. Mahmood headed a large reactor project that also needed to import illicitly or secretly many items, including sensitive technology, materials, components, and manufacturing equipment. He and his colleagues must have had extensive information about procuring sensitive items for a nuclear weapons program.

Several UTN projects were aimed at reestablishing Afghanistan's manufacturing, scientific, and engineering capabilities in universities and industries. Projects focused on such reconstruction could have provided a convenient cover for importing sensitive items for WMD programs. Even if the procurement was illicit, a procurement effort is more likely to succeed if the exporting company believes it is sending items to a civil institution. Because many UTN projects were medical or humanitarian in nature, imports to these projects may have been exempt from the UN embargo on Afghanistan.

Some nuclear dual-use equipment, such as vacuum furnaces, would have been hard to procure, especially for al Qaeda. The involvement of the Pakistani scientists may significantly eased the task of obtaining such equipment.

A surprising piece of information was UTN's interest in developing uranium mining. It has been known for a long time that Afghanistan had uranium resources. But that Pakistani nuclear scientists and BTC were planning to extract uranium increases suspicions about their intentions. A nuclear weapon program would need uranium for components, or as a surrogate material for testing nuclear weapon designs or learning to make highly enriched uranium metal. Such a capability would also make any weapons program more indigenous.


The fall of the Taliban regime ended the threat that a quasi-state nuclear weapons program could have emerged in Afghanistan. This program would have likely continued to benefit significantly from the assistance of Pakistani nuclear scientists.

Many of the budding nuclear activities in Afghanistan were unknown to the rest of the world until the regime fell in November 2001. Reconstructing what al Qaeda learned or accomplished in its quest for nuclear weapons or RDDs is difficult and time-consuming. The background of Mahmood and his colleagues causes continuing suspicion that al Qaeda knows more about such weapons or has made more progress in building them than these scientists are willing to admit. Because al Qaeda is still believed to be actively seeking nuclear weapons and RDDs, what these scientists provided may still come to haunt us.

1 Michael Zielenziger. "Pakistani Officials Probe Nuclear Experts' Ties to Afghanistan," The Mercury News, October 28, 2001.
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2 John F. Burns, "Pakistan Atom Experts Held Amid Fear of Leaked Secrets." The New York Times, November 1, 2001.
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3 The date when Mahmood resigned varies in press reports. Dates of 1998, 1999, and 2000 are all given. For a date in 1999, which is taken as the most accurate date, see, Anwar Iqbal and Khawar Mehdi, "Nuclear Scientist Opposes Pakistan Accepting CTBT, The News, internet version, April 10, 1999; Susan B. Glasser and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan Continues Probe of Nuclear Scientists," The Washington Post, November 24, 2001 or Haider K. Nizamani, "Imperatives of the CTBT Debate," Dawn, February 28, 2000; and for a date of January 1, 2000, see Arshad Sharif, "Assets of Nuclear Scientist Frozen," Dawn, January 31, 2002. See also, Munir Ahmad, "Attacks-Scientist," Associated Press, October 24, 2001; and "Pakistan Atom Experts Held," op. cit.
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4 Sultan Mahmood and Muhammad Nasim, "CTBT: A Technical Assessment." Pakistan Link,, January 7, 2000.
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5 "Pakistan Atom Experts Held," op. cit.
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6 Chidanand Rahghatta, "U.S. Spooked by 'Spirited' Pak Nuclear Scientist," The Times of India, November 2, 2002.
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7 Asmir Latif, Isalam Online, "Two Pakistani Atomic Scientists Arrested," October 24, 2001. Available at
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8 "Pakistan Moves Nuclear Weapons," op. cit.
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9 Molly Moore and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan Moves Nuclear Weapons," The Washington Post, November 11, 2001.
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10 "Pakistan Moves Nuclear Weapons," op. cit.
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11 Amjad Bashir Siddiqi, "I Never Thought Meeting Osama, Omar Will Spell Trouble for Me," The News, March 19, 2002, internet version,
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12 Chidanand Rahghatta, "US Spooked by 'Spirited' Pak Nuclear Scientist," The Times of India, November 2, 2002.
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13 Rory McCarthy, "Worrying Times," The Guardian, November 8, 2001.
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14 See for example, Farhatullah Babar, "Recalling a Patriot," International The News, May 2, 2002,
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15 See Robert Windrem, NBC News, November 1, 2001.
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16 For a short critique of Mahmood's methodology, see
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17 Quoted in "Worrying Times," op. cit.
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18 Quoted in "Bin Laden Almost Had Uranium Bomb," London Sunday Times, March 3, 2002.
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19 Peter Baker, "Pakistani Scientist Who Met Bin Laden Failed Polygraphs, Renewing Suspicions," The Washington Post, March 3, 2002.
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20 "Pakistani Scientist Who Met Bin Laden Failed" op. cit.
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21 "U.S. Act Termed Terrorism," Dawn, October 9, 2001.
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22 "Pakistani Scientist Who Met Bin Laden Failed," op. cit.
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23 "Islami Mahaz Urges Government to Resist Signing of CTBT," Dawn, February 14, 2000.
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24 These quotes are taken from press releases found on this site that summarize what Ahmad said.
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25 "Debt Trap World-based Phenomena," Dawn, May 28, 2001.
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26 NBC, op. cit. (Nov 1, 2001).
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27 NBC, op. cit. (Nov 1, 2001).
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28 Jack Kelly, "Terrorists Courted Nuclear Scientists," USA Today, November 15, 2001.
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29 Eurasia Insight, "Pakistan Scientists Under Investigation for Taliban-Bin Laden Links," Eurasianet, Novermber 18, 2001,
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30 Zahid Hussain, Associated Press, December 9, 2001.
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31 David Sanger, Douglas Frantz, and James Risen, "Nuclear Experts in Pakistan May Have Links to Al Qaeda," The New York Times, December 9, 2001.
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32 "Nuclear Experts in Pakistan May Have Links," op. cit.
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33 Carla Anne Robbins and Jeanne Cummings, "How Bush Decided that Hussein Must be Ousted from Atop Iraq," The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2002.
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34 "How Bush Decided," op. cit.
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35 "Pakistani Scientist Says No Anthrax Plant in Afghanistan, Discusses Prevention: U.S. Provides Chemical Weapons to Northern Alliance-Dr. Sultan," Islamabad Khabrain, October 6, 2001, in Urdu (available in English from FBIS, document number FBIS-NES-2001-1006).
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36 "Pakistani Scientist Says No Anthrax Plant in Afghanistan," op. cit.
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37 For more detailed information about these drawings, see Chris Stephen, "Kabul House of Anthrax Secrets, The Evening Standard, November 22, 2001; Douglas Frantz and David Rohde, "2 Pakistanis Linked to Papers on Anthrax Weapons," The New York Times, November 28, 2001; and David Rohde, "Germ Weapon Plans Found at a Scientist's House in Kabul," The New York Times, December 1, 2001.
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38 "Pro-Taliban Nuclear Scientist Planned Large-Scale Investment in Afghanistan," Nawa-i-Waqt, October 31, 2001, in Urdu (English version in FBIS, document number FBIS-NES-2001-1031).
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39 Reported in "Pro-Taliban Nuclear Scientist Planned Large-Scale Investment," op. cit.
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40 Mahmood, "Who Are the Taliban," published by the Human Development Foundation, undated but the copyright is 2001. The article was found at ). This article is a highly flattering look at the Taliban and Mullah Omar, based on Mahmood's own experience and interviews in Afghanistan.
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41 NBC, op. cit. (November1, 2001).
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42 NBC, op. cit. (November 1, 2001).
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43 "Nuclear Scientists Picked by Agencies," Pakistan Observer, web site at http:/
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44 Amjad Bashir Siddiqi, "I Never Thought Meeting Osama, Omar Will Spell Trouble for Me," The News, March 19, 2002, internet edition.
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45 The poor state of the roads in Afghanistan has been well known for years and has been seen as a major impediment to development. For example, on a trip to Afghanistan in April 2001 by a delegation led by Israr Ahmad that sought to increase investments there, the delegation was particularly struck by the poor condition of the road, which a trip report on the web site of Tanzeem-e-Islami, described as "devastated." This report, which paints an idyllic portrait of the Taliban leaders, describes meeting with Mullah Omar at his compound outside of Kandahar and being received in Kabul with the highest state protocol. The report describes Omar as extremely shy, soft spoken, and a man of few words. Omar led a prayer for Ahmad's group and hugged everyone, including a man in Ahmad's group that did not have a beard. The Taliban, who were looking for Muslims to invest in building Afghanistan, appealed to Ahmad's group to take their case to the people of Pakistan.
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46 Shujaat Ali Khan, "Nuclear Scientists' Case Hearing Adjourned," Dawn, November 28, 2001.
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47 Peter Baker and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan to Forgo Charges Against 2 Nuclear Scientists," The Washington Post, January 30, 2002.
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48 "I Never Thought," op. cit.
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49 Akhtar Jamal, "Pakistani Nuke Scientists to Face Charges for Al Qaeda Contacts,", December 13, 2001.
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50 Kamran Khan and Molly Moore, "2 Nuclear Experts Briefed Bin Laden, Pakistanis Say," The Washington Post, December 12, 2001.
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51 "2 Nuclear Scientists Briefed," op. cit
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52 "2 Nuclear Scientists Briefed," op. cit
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53 "2 Nuclear Scientists Briefed," op. cit
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54 Kaman Khan, "Pakistan Releases Nuclear Scientists for Ramadan's End," The Washington Post, December 16, 2001.
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55 "Bin Laden Almost Had Uranium Bomb," London Sunday Times, March 3, 2002.
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56 Julian Boger, "Pakistan Nuclear Experts Advised Bin Laden," Guardian Unlimited, December 13 2001.
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57 Peter Baker and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan to Forgo Charges Against 2 Nuclear Scientists," The Washington Post, January 30, 2002.
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58 On, see the sections on export controls, Pakistan, and Iraq.
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59 Peter Baker, "Pakistani Scientist Who Met Bin Laden Failed Polygraphs, Renewing Suspicions," The Washington Post, March 3, 2002.
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60 "I Never Thought," op. cit.
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61 "I Never Thought," op. cit.
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62 Julian West, "Al Qaeda Sought Nuclear Scientists," The Washington Times, April 11, 2002.
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63 Susan B. Glasser and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan Continues Probe of Nuclear Scientists," The Washington Post, November 24, 2001.
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