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June 23, 2004


A Blind Eye to the Islamic Bomb

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According to the world's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, it's now just a matter of time before terrorists strike with a nuclear weapon. Earlier this week, the agency's head, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear capability was now imminent. If ElBaradei's horror scenario unfolds it may be thanks to Pakistan. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Pakistan had been leaking nuclear technology and expertise to some of the world's most unstable and dangerous regimes for years. As Nick Lazaredes reveals, the West, consumed as it was with Iraq, largely turned a blind eye to this trade and is still showing remarkable patience in uncovering how much damage was done.

REPORTER: Nick Lazaredes
When President Bush was making his case for invading Iraq there was one overriding aim - to stop terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein.

GEORGE BUSH, AMERICAN PRESIDENT: The danger is clear. Using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfil their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.

This danger - of states with weapons of mass destruction and terrorists getting their hands on them - is a real one. But while Iraq was an unlikely threat on both counts, the real threat was ignored. Pakistan already has a nuclear bomb and, as we'll reveal, Saudi Arabia was largely responsible for financing it.

LEONARD WEISS, NON-PROLIFERATION EXPERT: They needed assistance and they got some of the assistance from the Saudis. Now the question is what was the motivation of the Saudis in providing such assistance?

Tonight, we investigate the sinister connections behind Pakistan's nuclear black market, the nuclear ambitions of Saudi Arabia and their links to terrorists.

JOSEPH TRENTO, NATIONAL SECURITY NEWS SERVICE: Where you have Saudi interests and Pakistani interests and al-Qa'ida interests converging, it's a very frightening picture.

By failing to act on clear evidence of nuclear proliferation in the Islamic world, has the United States facilitated the real nightmare scenario?

LEONARD WEISS: We are now talking about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and it's very hard to imagine a greater nightmare than that.

Pakistan's nuclear proliferation was finally revealed earlier this year. It stands accused of establishing a virtual pan-Islamic nuclear supermarket, with clients like Libya and Iran and an underground network that spread from the Middle East to Malaysia and Europe.
But in a remarkable feat of blame-shifting, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has managed to deflect any punishment for what is clearly a shocking development in heightening nuclear tensions. Content with looking the other way while Pakistan helps them in the war on terror, the United States has rewarded Musharraf with even more money and military hardware.
Before the nuclear proliferation scandal stole the headlines, monuments to Pakistan's atomic might were scattered throughout the capital, Islamabad. Now only this one - a replica of the mountain where the country detonated its first nuclear device - remains intact. It's all part of a drive by President Musharraf to sweep the whole proliferation affair under the carpet.
But despite his best efforts to conceal the truth - efforts condoned by the US government - intriguing new details about this dangerous black market in nuclear technology are coming to the surface.
This is the man blamed for letting Pakistan's nuclear cat out of the bag. In Pakistan, Abdul Qadeer Khan was not just any national hero. He was an icon, a living treasure. True, without him, Pakistan would never have been able to build the bomb. But is he the Dr Strangelove character that the authorities suggest he is - a rogue scientist heading his own private underground network trading in nuclear technology around the world?
Certainly, the Pakistani military want the world to believe that Dr Khan acted alone.

MAJ. GEN. SHAUKAT SULTAN, PAKISTAN MILITARY SPOKESMAN: It's just unfortunate that he - despite having done such a splendid and wonderful job for the country - he indulged into something which has brought a bad name to the country as well. And he has acknowledged that, that, yes, he indulged into that activity and he has felt sorry for that publicly and based on that, the President has pardoned him.

HASSAM UL-HAQ, SCIENTIST'S RELEASE COMMITTEE: We are not going to tolerate the humiliation of our heroes - at any cost.

Hassam Ul-Haq and his nieces have felt the pain of the nuclear scandal more than most. Hassam's brother, Major Islam Ul-Haq, was assigned to Dr Khan by the military. But unlike Khan, who was pardoned, Major Ul-Haq languishes in jail on unspecified charges along with four other colleagues.

HASSAM UL-HAQ: Everybody was unaware that where they were being kept, nobody knew where they were being kept, and they are being kept in very precarious conditions, in very inhuman conditions.

As Major Ul-Haq's four daughters grow increasingly desperate for news about their father, Hassam has launched a campaign for his and the others' release from prison. He believes the arrested men are simply scapegoats for Pakistan's military chiefs.

HASSAM UL-HAQ: The responsibility should not have been taken by Qadeer Khan. It should have been the generals because nothing can happen without these generals.

Amongst the evidence of military involvement in the Khan network - secret photographs obtained of Pakistani C-130 aircraft parked on a North Korean airstrip. US military intelligence sources believe that they were used to transfer uranium enrichment technology to Pyongyang in return for missiles.
The military confirm they bought the missiles but say there was no technology swap.

REPORTER: How is it possible that Dr Khan could fly in a C-130 aircraft, utilise the services of a C-130 aircraft without military knowledge? Was he...

MAJ. GEN. SHAUKAT SULTAN: I think most of these are just fiction stories made by the media. C-130 aircraft was used once, certainly, but that was for getting the surface-to-air missiles from Korea, so that is it. I don't think - these are unnecessary linkages being established by the media that "OK, since C-130 went, so something else would have gone into that".

But few people have accepted the Pakistan military denials. On Capitol Hill, a recent congressional panel blasted the White House for failing to act on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation.

GARY ACKERMAN, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Isn't this why we went to war in Iraq? But nary a word of condemnation has passed our collective lips when it comes to Pakistan's nuclear proliferation activities.

But the Bush Administration continues to hold its line.

JOHN BOLTON, SECRETARY OF STATE-NON-PROLIFERATION: If we had information about complicity of top levels of the government of Pakistan, we would act on it. At this point, there's no such information.

To some seasoned observers, especially those with ties to intelligence communities, America's handling of the Khan nuclear scandal is fraught with risk.

JOSEPH TRENTO: If a city disappears off the face of the earth instead of just two towers collapsing, it may have its roots in these activities.

Joe Trento is an award-winning, Washington-based, investigative journalist with high-level contacts within the French intelligence service. They told him that the Americans were deliberately ignoring evidence of alarming nuclear proliferation in the Islamic world.

JOSEPH TRENTO: It was certainly apparent to French intelligence. They were convinced that the US was deliberately not acting on any of this - and the British as well. Virtually everybody in Western intelligence knew about what Khan was doing and how he was doing it. So the real question became, "Why was he allowed to continue to do it?" In other words, why was he allowed to spread the technology?

Trento's sources in French intelligence also suggest that there were other foreign forces at work behind the scenes of the Khan network.

JOSEPH TRENTO: The idea that he operated this whole network by himself is ludicrous on its face. Then what we're finding are ties back to some Saudi companies and Saudi banking institutions and other things that are very disturbing. The real question here is whether or not this is a much bigger thing than we thought, and whether or not Pakistan just simply was a stalking horse so Riyadh could have a nuclear weapon.

The first allegations that Saudi Arabia was seeking nuclear weapons appeared in 1981. Since then, many observers believe that the Saudis have satisfied their thirst for nuclear protection through their relationship with Pakistan.

SIMON HENDERSON, AUTHOR AND SAUDI EXPERT: The Pakistani-Saudi relationship may be denied, but frankly it is very concrete and very real and goes back a long way in history. This is what I consider a battle honour of my writing on Pakistan over the years. It was given to me by Khan, because he thought I was an honest and objective reporter for 'The Financial Times'.

Simon Henderson met Dr Khan when he was working in Pakistan as a correspondent. He has also travelled to, and written extensively about, Saudi Arabia.

SIMON HENDERSON: I think now is when Saudi Arabia is looking to Pakistan and saying, "We're interested in your nuclear arsenal to provide some sort of nuclear umbrella for us as well." Saudis, of course, are particularly fearful of what Iran might be doing on the nuclear front and if you assume, as I do, that Iran isn't so far away from having a nuclear weapon, then I'm sure the Saudis don't want to be too far behind.

While Saudi Arabia's nuclear agenda may have been common knowledge for years, it seems that the United States has been reluctant to get involved. Even when it's handed, what seems like hard evidence of the Saudis' ambitions.

MICHAEL WILDES, ATTORNEY: Shame on our intelligence services for playing politics and "business as usual" when I had a defector sitting in my office with information.

Everything else OK, Dave? Have you been able to discern anything with the documents that you saw at all?

Manhattan immigration lawyer Michael Wildes has carved a niche in representing high-value intelligence defectors to the United States. One of them, Mohammed al-Khilewi, was a first secretary to the Saudi mission at the United Nations. He was a specialist in nuclear non-proliferation. In the weeks before his defection in May 1994, al-Khilewi began copying thousands of top-secret intelligence dossiers to take with him.

MICHAEL WILDES: And he had access to the documents and literally spent days going to Kinko's across the street and copying about 14,000 documents and then came out and said, "I've had enough. I'm fed up. This is not what we should be doing as brothers and as a nation and as a world". And he got fed up on principle.

Armed with the documents, al-Khilewi attempted to set up a meeting with the FBI. It was a dangerous time. According to Michael Wildes, the Saudis were already looking for the defector.

MICHAEL WILDES: Well, my client had a hit team dispatched to kill him and the FBI calls me one Friday afternoon to tell me that they're en route. I said, "Well, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to protect him? How are you going to protect me?"
"Well, we have an obligation to tell you that this information is credible but we don't have the obligation to protect him."

The documents al-Khilewi had in his possession were simply staggering. Information on assassination plots against Western ambassadors in the US and covert Saudi intelligence operations on American soil. Also amongst them, evidence of Saudi Arabia's efforts towards nuclear proliferation.

MICHAEL WILDES: Diplomats, according to Mr al-Khilewi, were trained, not only in intelligence operations, but how to take bomb-making material through border post and diplomatic pouches.
He showed me, actually, a diagram - which I can provide you if you like - of an individual, how you can sneak in bomb-making material through diplomatic posts.

But incredibly, the FBI agents who debriefed the Saudi diplomat were instructed not to accept any of the documents he was offering - presumably to avoid any embarrassment to the US-Saudi relationship.

MICHAEL WILDES: Astoundingly, in a hotel around the corner from our office, the FBI left the documents that we produced that night. After making a telephone call, the agents were being given different directions from their superiors in Washington. It was important to them that they come to the meeting, but more important that they leave without the documents and I was shocked.

Even the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar, wanted the affair dealt with quickly and quietly.

MICHAEL WILDES: We were told repeatedly by the Saudi ambassador, "Let's work this out as gentlemen. If your client wants to get a green card, I can get it for him, no problem."
I couldn't get the FBI to take a piece of paper off the table and give me a straight report without 12 people being consulted but the Saudi Ambassador can get him an American green card. Go figure.

In 1994, London's 'Sunday Times' published details from al-Khilewi's documents, showing how, during the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent billions on Iraq's efforts to build a nuclear bomb on the condition that the technology be transferred to the kingdom if it was successful.

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, FORMER HEAD OF SAUDI INTELLIGENCE: There was never any Saudi pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The author of many of al-Khilewi's documents, the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal, rejects their existence. He says al-Khilewi was fired for incompetence.

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL: When he was fired, then he decided to defect, claiming that he had all sorts of files and authoritative documents showing that Saudi Arabia was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons policy. He never showed those files. They were never published because they don't exist.

Dateline has since seen some of the documents copied by al-Khilewi which had been translated, certified and stamped by the FBI. Although al-Khilewi remains in hiding, Michael Wildes says the FBI still consult him for advice in relation to Saudi terrorist links.

MICHAEL WILDES: The documents that my client provided were vetted through not only by law enforcement but by several intelligence services, who not only have taken counsel with my client after every attack upon our interests internationally, but have also had FBI translators review the documents for it to test its veracity and have done whatever measures they needed to, to check it. Nothing has been challenged.

As Saudi Arabia's spymaster for over 20 years, Prince Turki al-Faisal probably knows much more than he's prepared to talk about on the record. He resigned as head of Saudi intelligence just days after the September 11 attacks. He's also named in a lawsuit brought by victims of the 9/11 attack over his alleged past links to Osama bin Laden. He's now the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Great Britain. He insists the Saudi kingdom has never pursued a nuclear agenda.

REPORTER: Saudi Arabian money has been actually used for the development of the Pakistan?

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL: Of course not. That is absolutely not true. It stands to contradict what I was just telling you. We would not give any money to anybody developing nuclear weapons.

MICHAEL WILDES: I don't find that to be a credible position at all. They've had it, they've bought it, they've fought for it, they've tried to sell it to other nations and have created all kinds of strategic relationships with other nations in that corridor including Pakistan, Iran and Iraq.

The Saudis opened their first nuclear research centre in an isolated stretch of desert in 1975. But the move which first attracted attention in the West was their purchase of CSS-2 missiles from China with a target range of nearly 3,000km and specifically designed for a nuclear payload. All they needed now was a bomb.

LEONARD WEISS: The Saudis helped to bankroll the Pakistani program and so there has to be a quid pro quo in there somewhere.

Non-proliferation expert Leonard Weiss has followed Pakistan and Saudi Arabia's relationship closely for many years. He says the Saudis helped pay for Pakistani nuclear weapons so that they would come under the protection of their nuclear umbrella.

LEONARD WEISS: There has been some speculation in the past about the possibility of Pakistan stationing weapons in Saudi Arabia or possibly using weapons in protection of the Saudi royal family.

Weiss was one of the authors of America's 1978 non-proliferation act under the guardianship of Senator John Glenn. He says, even back then, anti-proliferation efforts were often stymied. Now Weiss believes that America's failure to deal with it properly may have a terrible price.

LEONARD WEISS: You should never lose sight of what the consequences are of making non-proliferation a lower objective in your foreign policy. And especially when we look at what the world situation is like today, where terrorism is playing such a high role, one can see that the failure to have dealt with non-proliferation problems in the past is now coming back to haunt us and particularly with respect to Pakistan.

As the main gateway to Afghanistan, the Pakistani city of Peshawar is an obvious place to look for the leakage of nuclear material to terrorists. During the '80s, it was a haven for Islamic Jihadis and fundamentalist zealots as well as a field headquarters for the CIA. When the CIA left, the Taliban and their supporters swelled the city's transient population and the first whisperings of the al-Qa'ida organisation were heard.

RAHIMULLAH YUSUF ZAI, BBC CORRESPONDENT: We heard the story that al-Qa'ida has been interested in acquiring some kind of, say, nuclear or biochemical technology and there have been these small bits of information about meetings, say, between the Pakistani nuclear scientists and Mr Bin Laden.

It was in the late '90s that the first rumours of Pakistani scientists meeting with al-Qa'ida operatives in Afghanistan were reported. But few journalists were able to establish Osama bin Laden's true motives. One who got close was the respected BBC correspondent Rahimullah Yusuf Zai.

RAHIMULLAH YUSUF ZAI: When I met Mr Osama bin Laden in 1998, I met him twice. In May in Khost in his camp which was then attacked by the US and then I met him in December 1998 near Kandahar. And on both occasions I remember him telling me that, "Look, according to the holy Koran and the sayings of the holy prophet, the Muslims must upgrade their defences, they must be ready to meet any challenge by their enemies".

Bin Laden had experience in meeting any challenge by his enemies. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Bin Laden received hundreds of millions of dollars in arms and equipment from both America and Saudi Arabia to fight them. The irony of this is lost on few people today. But in the same way that that relationship helped spawn the world's most-wanted terrorist, US support for the Afghan Mujaheddin indirectly boosted Pakistan's bomb program.

JOSEPH TRENTO: Does that mean it's clear now that some of the same accounts that were used to fund the Muj also funded the nuclear weapons program in Pakistan? Now, we made a deal with the devil. The devil was Pakistan - they wanted to develop the weapons, we wanted to beat the Soviets. In order to do that we made a trade-off. "Look the other way, otherwise it's not going to happen."

The evidence for a US policy of looking the other way is there from the very beginning. In late 1979, Jimmy Carter's administration was still reeling from the hostage crisis in Iran. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the whole region was in turmoil. The day after the Soviets invaded, Carter's National Security Advisor - Zbigniew Brzezinski - penned this memorandum to the president.
Under the heading, "What is to be done?" Brzezinski said it was essential to get Pakistan's support for the Mujaheddin.

BRZEZINSKI DOCUMENT QUOTE: "This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our non-proliferation policy. "


It appears the new policy was accepted. Billions of dollars flowed into the Afghan resistance and there was no real effort to close down Pakistan's nuclear program.

LEONARD WEISS: We needed the Pakistanis in order to be able to deliver arms and other assistance and - but the Pakistanis understood that if that was what the US really wanted, that they could proceed with the development of the bomb and that we would turn a blind eye toward that process, which we did.

The ISI - Pakistan's intelligence agency - was the favoured conduit and literally hundreds of suitcases stuffed with cash were given to them by both the CIA and Saudi intelligence.
CIA sources suspect that up to half the funding for the Afghan resistance ended up being diverted to help make Pakistan's nuclear bomb. But with so much cash flying about, the money trails were impossible to trace.

JOSEPH TRENTO: If you give somebody $10 million in cash and say, "Go do this," well, he may do it but there may be $3 million or $4 million that disappears in the process. The CIA had no way, nor did Congress, of double-checking any of this.

RETIRED GENERAL HAMID GUL: We were working together. Saudi Arabia was funding one half of the entire budget during the Afghan jihad days. One half came from America and one half from Saudi Arabia.

REPORTER: Did they also help out on the nuclear funding?

GENERAL HAMID GUL: Not to my knowledge. I have no... As far as the nuclear field is concerned, I said it was not my business, so I don't have any information.

Retired general Hamid Gul was head of the ISI at the time the rivers of cash were flowing in. Although he admits that there were American suspicions about diverted money to the nuclear program, no evidence was found.

GENERAL HAMID GUL: And at that time they made our government look into the accounts and everything possible was done. But they did not find - not a single bullet, not a single dollar was misappropriated. I'm very proud to say that.

But outside of the ISI money trail, there was another method of financing Pakistan's nuclear program. The BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, was the first global bank for the Islamic world. Founded by a Pakistani and funded by Arab Gulf states, it was used by criminals, governments and intelligence agencies to fund activities they wanted to hide.
But the bank's illegal activities began attracting attention, and when BCCI collapsed in 1991, its books were thrown open.

JONATHAN WINER, FORMER US SENATE INVESTIGATOR: The paperwork was filled with fraud, riddled with fraud - completely, totally unreliable, untrustworthy and often totally untrue.

Jonathan Winer was part of a US congressional inquiry, led by Senator John Kerry, which began probing BCCI's criminal activities in the early '90s. It became clear that the BCCI trail led directly to Pakistan's nuclear program.

JONATHAN WINER: What we knew at the time was that BCCI officials believed that BCCI had been used for Pakistan's nuclear program to handle the funds. We knew that BCCI officials believed that the bank had been used by British intelligence, by US intelligence. We documented its use by certain terrorists.

It was here, through the BCCI's former London headquarters, that much of the external financing for Pakistan's nuclear program was channelled. Although we can't reveal his identity, Dateline has spoken to a former executive manager of the bank who's confirmed the links between BCCI and Pakistan's nuclear quest.
According to the source, the bank was not only used to process payments for nuclear spare parts from Europe, but also secretly contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to help Pakistan develop the atomic bomb.
According to the source, who would not appear on camera, two years before the bank's collapse, key executives querying a $400 million loss on a cotton project in Egypt were told that the loss didn't exist and were informed that one of the bank's Arab owners had directly contributed the $400 million to Pakistan's nuclear development.
What is disturbing about BCCI is that the links between the Saudi and Pakistan governments and terrorist networks were never investigated and Jonathan Winer believes they continued well into the '90s.

JONATHAN WINER: What's interesting is what happened to the BCCI people afterwards and did any of them continue to engage in the kind of activities they engaged in for BCCI after the bank collapsed? Some of the underlying cast of characters in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, continue to turn up after the bank goes under.

Despite the evidence of extensive Saudi involvement in BCCI, former spymaster Prince Turki al-Faisal denies the links.

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL: It never had an office in Saudi Arabia and when I was at the intelligence service there, we never used BCCI for any activity, covert or otherwise.

Prince Turki's denials may be disingenuous. His uncle, Kamal Adham, was a BCCI shareholder and John Kerry's Senate investigation uncovered loans worth millions from a BCCI controlled company directly to Prince Turki. But he refused to be drawn on the issue.

REPORTER: You do, however, know something about BBCI from the past, though, I'd imagine, from your time in intelligence?

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL: Seems to be ancient history by now.

Almost a decade after BCCI collapsed, some of the family names linked to it turn up in the now well-established Khan nuclear network. The London agent for the network was an accountant called Abu Siddiqui.
In May 1999, he was arrested by British customs for exporting banned technology for the nuclear network. It was the first crack that could have exposed the details and the money trail of the underground nuclear trade.

MIKE PILGRIM, US COUNTER INTELLIGENCE EXPERT: There is a clear trail through bank receipts that it was being funded, to some extent, by Saudi money.

Mike Pilgrim has spent three decades working for US intelligence. He has inside knowledge that US intelligence agencies were monitoring Saudi involvement in the Khan proliferation network in the late '90s. It was in Malaysia, where Pilgrim was a security adviser for Kuala Lumpur's new airport, that he learnt that Malaysian intelligence was also well aware of the black market nuclear trade on their soil.

MIKE PILGRIM: The Malaysians weren't really interested, even though they knew, obviously, of the Saudi influence, and they had a pretty good idea - especially through Khan and his relationship with Pakistani ISI intelligence - they had a real good inkling of who the players were.

Among the central players in Malaysia was this man - BS Tahir - a Sri Lankan business partner of Khan and the Siddiquis. He married into the highest circles of government and set up a factory producing centrifuges for enriching uranium for Dr Khan and his clients.
The Malaysians would eventually close the factory under pressure from the US.
But at that time, the Malaysians seemed unconcerned that their country was being used as a base to support what was becoming an Islamic bomb.

MIKE PILGRIM: They would not have been averse to seeing Muslim countries hold nuclear capability. The Malaysian attitude was basically "business is business", they will take care of their own internal security if it doesn't affect their own internal security, business is business.

Tahir had very high-level connections. He even had the son of the Malaysian PM on one of his company boards. But it was his Saudi connections that were of interest to the Malaysians. They were worried that some of his funding may have come from radical or extremist sources.
When September 11 firmly planted Islamic fundamentalism on the world's agenda, many expected the United States to act decisively on the growing Islamic nuclear network. US intelligence had been monitoring Pakistan's nuclear proliferation for years. They knew about the Saudi involvement and the connections from Tahir in Malaysia, through to Siddiqui in Britain.
But, incredibly, virtually nothing happened. In London, just weeks after the terrorist attacks, although Abu Siddiqui had been convicted of transferring banned nuclear technology, he was given a suspended sentence. To Mike Pilgrim it was more like a slap on the wrist than the expected crackdown.

MIKE PILGRIM: The slap on the wrist for the technology transfer seemed to be a lot more about not angering and really to low-ball the Pakistani involvement in this entire process and the fact of Pakistani proliferation, because of the need for allies in that part of the world.

When news of Dr Khan's Islamic nuclear network became public earlier this year, Pakistan had already become America's key ally in the war on terror. President Bush accepted the Pakistani Government line it was all Dr Khan's fault and the network had been closed down. According to Leonard Weiss, this is dangerously short-sighted.

LEONARD WEISS: I think we are now in a very dangerous situation because the network is still out there, the materials and the equipment is out there and it is only a matter of time it seems to me before some terrorist group gets hold of some of this.

To allow Pakistan and Saudi Arabia access to nuclear material seems particularly foolhardy. Despite both governments' friendly relations with the United States, their deeply Muslim populations see America as waging war on Islam.
Fundamentalist political parties in Pakistan have a mindset that is ominously close to that of Osama bin Laden.

PROFESSOR PERVEZ HOODBHOY, NUCLEAR PHYSICIST: The religious parties in Pakistan, they call it with great pride, an "Islamic bomb". They say this is a bomb that should be used for the defence of the entire Muslim ummah, for the collective defence of Islam everywhere.

Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is a Pakistani nuclear physicist who has spoken out against his country's proliferation abroad. He believes the situation in Pakistan is dangerously unstable.

PROFESSOR PERVEZ HOODBHOY: There is a lot of hatred for the United States, especially after what it has done in Iraq and what it is continuing to do in Israel. I fear that if Musharraf is assassinated, that there could be a dangerous situation in the country and that the nuclear weapons then would possibly be hijacked.

By turning a blind eye to Pakistan's bomb and the efforts to set up a worldwide Islamic nuclear network, has America seriously misread the real threat?
Could short-term strategic expediency have blinded them to what could turn out to be the ultimate case of blow-back?

MICHAEL WILDES: The American Government supported bin Laden only to find him to be the greatest risk to our national security years later. The government supported the likes of Pakistan now. Are we going to be at war two months, five years from now with Pakistan?

The glue that holds the Pakistan-US alliance together is President Musharraf himself. And he has already narrowly escaped two assassination attempts. Senior figures in Pakistan think it's time to re-evaluate the relationship with America.

GENERAL HAMID GUL: So what is it that Pakistan has not done? And yet they are not satisfied with us. It only shows that it is very dangerous to be friends of America. Sometimes it's good to be their enemy.

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