Paul Williams, author of “Osama’s Revenge” and a new book, “The Al Qaeda Connection,” has stirred a national controversy with his reporting on the imminent nuclear terror threat posed by Osama bin Laden. In this exclusive dispatch, first published in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, he reveals the connections between Pakistan’s nuclear mastermind and Osama bin Laden’s plans for an “American Hiroshima.”
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of the Islamic bomb” and the “godfather of nuclear proliferation,” provided nuclear expertise, nuclear materials, and designs for atomic weapons to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to assist in the realization of the “American Hiroshima.”
The American Hiroshima plan represents al-Qaida’s plan for the nuclear destruction of the United States. It calls for the detonation of seven tactical nuclear devices in seven U.S. cities at the same time. Each device, according to the plan, must be equipped to produce an explosive yield of 10 kilotons to equal the 1945 blast in Hiroshima that killed 242,437 Japanese civilians.
News about Dr. Khan’s involvement with al-Qaida and the American Hiroshima plan first emerged with the capture of several al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan in October 2001, during the first phase of Operation Enduring Freedom, and, later, with the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, bin Laden’s military operations chief, in Karachi, Pakistan, March 2, 2003.
From Khalid Mohammad’s laptop, CIA officials uncovered details of al-Qaida’s plan to create a series of “nuclear hell storms” throughout the United States.
After days of interrogation coupled with severe sleep deprivation, Khalid Mohammad told U.S. intelligence officials that the chain of command for the “American Hiroshima” answered directly to bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and a mysterious scientist whom he, at first, referred to as “Dr. X,” but later identified as Dr. Khan.
Tim Burger and Tim McGirk in the May 12, 2003, edition of Time managed to confirm that at least one meeting between Dr. Khan and bin Laden occurred within a safe house in Kabul.
The Real Dr. Strangelove
Dr. A.Q. Khan spearheaded Pakistan’s effort to build nuclear weapons to stabilize the nuclear threat from India. Five atomic bombs, developed by Khan, were successfully detonated beneath the scorched hills of the Baluchistan desert in 1998.
Khan, who went on to work on the successful firings of the nuclear-capable Ghaudi I and II missiles, remains a revered figure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where his birthday is celebrated in mosques.
After gaining a place for Pakistan within the elite nuclear club of nations along with the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France, India and Israel, Khan proceeded to sell his centrifuge technology for the enrichment of uranium and his designs for atomic weapons to such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Sudan, and such rogue nations as North Korea, Iran, and Libya. Abundant evidence exists that the list of Khan’s customers should be expanded to include Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kuwait, Myanmar, and Abu Dubai.
More information was squeezed out of Khalid Mohammad in subsequent months, including accounts of continuous visits by bin Laden and company to the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories in Pakistan, where they gained the assistance of such renowned nuclear physicists, including Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, chairman of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission.
Dr. Mahmood’s Confession
Mahmood was taken into custody by Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence and CIA agents Oct. 23, 2001. After months of questioning, Mahmood at last admitted that he had met with bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaida officials on several occasions, including the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to discuss the means of speeding up the process of manufacturing nukes from the highly enriched uranium that al-Qaida had obtained from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other sources.
Mahmood insisted that he had provided answers to technical questions concerning tactical nuclear weapons but declined to provide bin Laden actual hands-on help for the creation of such devices. Upon voicing this denial, Mahmood was subjected to six lie-detector tests. He failed them all.
The Nuclear Nest
Throughout 2002, CIA and ISI officials obtained more and more information concerning the involvement of scientists from the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories in the plans for the American Hiroshima. After being threatened with seven years in prison under Pakistan’s Official Secrets Act, Dr. Chaudry Abdul Majid, PAEC’s chief engineer, admitted that he met with bin Laden and other al-Qaida officials on a regular basis to provide technical assistance for the construction and care of its nuclear weapons. Dr. Mirza Yusuf Baig, another PAEC engineer, made a similar confession.
Yet a host of other leading scientists and technicians from Khan’s facility have managed to elude arrest and interrogation by quietly slipping out of the country. Dr. Mohammad Ali Mukhtar and Dr. Suleiman Assad, nuclear engineers and close colleagues of Khan and Mahmood, escaped to Myanmar, where they are currently engaged in building a 10-megawatt nuclear reactor for the Third World country. Others have made off for unknown destinations. The list of such “absconders” includes the names of Muhammad Zubair, Murad Qasim, Tariq Mahmood, Saeed Akhther, Imtaz Baig, Waheed Nasir, Munawar Ismail, Shaheen Fareed, and Khalid Mahmood.
The Missing Nukes
Still, the interrogations of the Pakistani scientists, coupled with findings from Dr. Mahmood’s office for “charitable affairs” in Kabul, verified for the CIA that al-Qaida had produced several nuclear weapons from highly enriched uranium and plutonium pellets the size of silver dollars at Khan’s facilities. At least one of these weapons was transported to Karachi where it was shipped to the United States in a cargo container.
The story of the deployed nuke was reported by Arnaud de Borchgrave of the Washington Times Dec. 10, 2001. It was carried by United Press International but received little play in the national press and garnered scant attention from such major news outlets as ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.
The whereabouts of the weapon remains a mystery. There are more than 18 million potential delivery vehicles that could be used to bring the nuke into the U.S. This figure represents the number of cargo containers that arrive into the country every year. Of these containers, only 3 percent are inspected. Moreover, the bills of lading do not have to be produced until the containers reach their place of destination.
News about other tactical nuclear weapons developed by Khan’s facilities for bin Laden came with the arrest of Sharif al Masri in Pakistan in November 2004. Al Masri, an al-Qaida operative with close ties to Ayman al-Zawahiri, informed CIA interrogators that a number of nukes had been deployed to Mexico where arrangements had been made with a Latino street gang for their safe transport into the U.S. This story, which appeared in the Nov. 17 issue of the Nation, also failed to capture widespread press attention.
Khan’s ‘Mea Culpa’
On Feb. 4, 2004, Khan, after being confronted with telltale evidence obtained by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, issued a public statement in which he confessed that he had sold blueprints for nuclear weapons to Libya, North Korea and Iran. He expressed “the deepest sense of sorrow and anguish” that he had placed Pakistan’s national security in jeopardy. “I have much to answer for,” he said.
Pakistan’s federal cabinet and President Pervez Musharraf responded to Khan’s confession by granting the esteemed scientist a full pardon for his acts of nuclear proliferation. Musharraf said that Khan and the scientists who worked with him were motivated by “money.” The pardon, according to many observers, represented an attempt by the Musharraf government to appease Islamic extremists and senior Pakistani military officials who believe that Musharraf had become a traitor to the Muslim people by providing military support and assistance to the Bush administration.
Khan remains a free and honored citizen of Pakistan, where neither U.S. military officials nor CIA agents can obtain the right to approach or question him. This situation has prompted Robert Gallucci, former U.N. weapons inspector and dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, to observe: “The most dangerous country for the U.S. now is Pakistan. … We haven’t been this vulnerable since the British burned Washington in 1814.”
The story of Dr. A.Q. Khan’s relationship with al-Qaida comes with a coda. Acclaimed French journalist Bernard-Henri Levy amassed considerable evidence that ISI officials executed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl after Pearl obtained inside information on the close relationship between Khan and bin Laden, the trafficking of nuclear materials from Khan’s facility near Islamabad to al-Qaida cells in Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, and the plans for the American Hiroshima.
For continuing and complete coverage of Osama bin Laden’s “American Hiroshima” plans, subscribe to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online, intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND.