Alexander's Column

The Web of Nuclear WMD: Khan's Network

Mark Alexander · Mar. 19, 2004

(This is the second of a two-part commentary on how the CIA scooped the nuclear WMD black-market. Read Part One: On the trail of nuclear terror)

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” –Sun Tzu (6th century B.C. Chinese general) in “The Art of War”

The United States is at war. Since 1993, the year of the first Islamist attack on the World Trade Center, our homeland has been a frontline in the war with Jihadistan, the borderless alliance of Islamist groups with global reach, who are relentlessly targeting the U.S. as surrogates for Islamic nation states. While orthodox Muslims (those conforming to the teachings of the “pre-Medina” Quran) do not support acts of terrorism or mass murder, very large sects within the Islamic world are indoctrinated with the “post-Mecca” Quran and Hadith (Mohammed’s teachings). These are the writings that call for “Jihad” or “Holy War” against all “the enemies of God.” Hence, “Jihadistan,” or “nation of holy war.”

In the war to deter Jihadistan terror, there are two recurrent themes in President George W. Bush’s leadership as Commander-in-Chief (his primary Constitutional role). First, he has emphasized that we must know our enemy and endeavor to keep the warfront on their turf. Second, President Bush has rightly insisted that we must know ourselves – that we must not lose our resolve to conduct this war in defense of our nation and our national interests.

On the first count, we have, thus far, succeeded. While Leftist politicos and their Leftmedia minions are loath to give credit where credit is due, it is nothing short of remarkable that, since 9/11, our Armed Forces, and the multitude of agencies supporting them, have prevented any further catastrophic attacks on U.S. soil.

On the second count, however, our nation’s resolve is at great risk of being undermined by Leftist agitators like John Kerry, who should think twice about starting every stump-speech by questioning our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Doing so only serves to endanger our forces in those regions – and the security of our homeland – by undermining U.S. resolve.

Like his mentor Ted Kennedy, Kerry has suggested that the rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom was cooked up by the administration and the CIA – that there are no WMD and, consequently, no looming threats against the United States. But Kerry and Kennedy et al. are wrong – dead wrong – and their use of our military campaign against Jihadistan as political campaign fodder is not only unconscionable – it is, potentially, calamitous.

In his 2002 State of the Union speech, George Bush exercised little ambiguity in putting the “Axis of Evil” on notice: “North Korea is a regime arming with…weapons of mass destruction…. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror…. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to…develop nuclear weapons for over a decade. … States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. …[T]he price of indifference would be catastrophic.”

Notably, President Bush added, “We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction.” Now fast-forward two years to the nuclear WMD web linking Pakistan, Libya, Iran, Iraq and North Korea, a network of terror that has been incrementally exposed in the last 60 days. How is it that revelations about the status of nuclear WMD development programs in these nations has suddenly surfaced?

Subsequent analysis by The Federalist’s leads us to conclude that the CIA (much-maligned by Kerry and Kennedy, who suggest the agency failed to provide accurate estimates of Iraq’s undiscovered WMD) succeeded in a high-stakes “takeover” of the nuclear black market prior to 2002. It’s an operation that is largely responsible for exposing the aforementioned Islamic web of nuclear WMD development – and a success that will likely remain unheralded beyond this column.

As we noted last week, the most recent WMD revelation was the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “discovery” of advanced uranium-enrichment equipment (gaseous centrifuge technology) at an air force base outside Tehran. That equipment was found to have traces of uranium refined to 90% of isotope 235, which has applications only in limited space reactors such as those in nuclear submarines – and nuclear bombs. (We’re quite certain Iran is not preparing to launch a nuclear submarine.)

Did Iran construct this particular component of advanced nuclear refinement technology? It’s doubtful. While Iran has its own successful nuclear WMD program, the source of the recently discovered equipment was very likely North Korea, by way of Iraq. Two years ago in Patriot No. 02-42, we reported that the enriched uranium at the core of North Korea’s nuclear WMD program was the product of gas centrifuge technology. Our sources tell us there is substantial evidence that North Korea transferred that technology to Iraq in the last decade.

Iraq, after all, had plenty of time, compliments of the French and French-fortified hand-wringers in the UN, to spirit the bulk of its biological and nuclear WMD into Iran and Syria prior to the coalition invasion last March. (You’ll recall that when the coalition’s Desert Storm invasion of Iraq was imminent in 1991, Saddam transferred his frontline squadrons of fighters to Iran.)

Of course, some still have their head in the sand, insisting that Iraq had no active nuclear WMD programs in recent years. (Ironically, that is precisely where some elements of his WMD programs likely remain concealed – in the sand.) For example, as we noted in Patriot No. 03-28, the CIA recovered gas-centrifuge components from Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, who had buried the hardware in his back yard prior to the coalition’s invasion of Iraq last year.

Who, then, is the common denominator of these various nuclear WMD programs? He is Abdul Qadeer Khan who was, until his role in trading nuclear technology was recently exposed, Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, and the father of the “Islamic bomb.” Khan collected most of his nuclear know-how from Western Europe and China over the last 20 years.

It is the considered opinion of our analysts that all these recent WMD revelations are the direct result of a covert operation to cultivate operatives in the nuclear black marketplace, particularly those in Khan’s network, and ultimately control a substantial part of that market in an effort to track sellers and buyers.

Our analysts conclude that Khan’s actions as the nuclear WMD black-market kingpin were transparent to the CIA – for at least the past four years, and possibly for the last decade. We believe the CIA conned Khan and his key operatives in a covert operation to provide “materials, technology, and expertise” in an effort to determine which state-sponsors of terrorism were buying nuclear WMD components, and the current stage of their nuclear WMD program development.

It’s an old ruse: If you want to know who the distributors and customers are, and how far they have advanced their programs and networks, set up your own shop, undercut the competition, and they’ll line up at your door. We believe that is precisely what the CIA did, using Khan wittingly or unwittingly, in setting up one of the most brilliant – and high-stakes – con games ever.

Khan apparently operated with the full knowledge of Pakistani President (and former general) Pervez Musharraf, who granted Khan a full pardon after his activities were exposed last month. Khan outsourced a significant amount of production work to Malaysia, centering on one B.S.A. Tahir, a prominent businessman with Malaysia’s Scomi Precision Engineering. Last month, speaking at the National Defense University, President Bush identified Tahir as the “chief financial officer and money launderer” of A.Q. Khan’s black market ring. Indeed, it was Scomi precision-manufactured centrifuge parts that were seized in the Mediterranean aboard the BCC China late last year, en route to Libya.

Regarding North Korea’s role, NSA Condoleezza Rice notes that details of Khan’s con were having a profound impact upon the United States’ ability to confront and negotiate with Pyongyang. “Now the North Koreans should also recognize that, with the unraveling of these proliferation networks, the A.Q. Khan network, what the Libyans are now freely admitting and talking about, that their admissions and what they say is not the only source of information about what’s going on in North Korea,” said Dr. Rice. “And it’s probably a good time for the North Koreans to come clean.”

Like any good sting operation, when it was determined by the CIA that all the information that could be gleaned from the Khan con had been collected – prior to the transfer of development of any kinetic weapons by terrorist surrogates – the CIA, through international channels, exposed the operation and put all Khan’s clients on immediate notice that the extent of their nuclear WMD programs is a matter of record. Undoubtedly, there were significant SpecOps in the days before and after the exposure, neutralizing the threats.

Of course, all Khan’s Islamic State customers know that in the heart of the Middle East right now, within easy striking distance of any of them, is a substantial U.S. and coalition military force. In light of this fact, what can we make of Libya’s sudden surrender of all its nuclear components a few weeks ago?

Mere coincidence? We think not.

George W. Bush has proven himself an outstanding Commander-in-Chief, and the CIA, should it ever acknowledge this operation, will certainly redeem itself in regard to its successful endeavor to track nuclear WMD. That notwithstanding, perhaps the greatest immediate threat to U.S. national security and sovereignty is not al-Qa'ida and company; rather, it is those among us whose phony political rhetoric is weakening our national resolve.

Quote of the week…

“Terrorists will kill innocent life in order to try to get the world to cower. That’s what they want to do. And they’ll never shake the will of the United States.” –George W. Bush

On the Warfront with Jihadistan….

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the onset of our taking the war with Jihadistan onto the Iraqi battlefields. The date has not gone unmarked, as Jihadis have taken the war to Europe. The coordinated bombings of Madrid trains late last Thursday, now almost certainly plotted al-Qa'ida-linked Islamists, with or without the help of Basque separatists, clearly had the desired effect – it influenced a national election. The Popular Party, whose leader Jose Maria Aznar had been a stalwart ally in the war with the Jihadis, went down in an upset defeat to the Socialist Party, led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Not having sought reelection himself, Sr. Aznar became the first Spanish head of state to leave office without revolution or coercion since the abdication of Charles V in 1556. Can we hope as much from PM Zapatero?

Aside from announcing that he will not attempt to form a coalition government, but rule on a straight Socialist platform, PM-elect Zapatero announced his intent to pull out all Spanish troops from participation in the “coalition of the willing” safeguarding Iraq. Zapatero went so far as to mischaracterize the freeing of the Iraqi people, saying, “The occupation is…a fiasco.” Occupation? What occupation?

Zapatero further signaled a return to head-in-the-sand postures in dealing with the terrorists. “Terrorism is combated by the state of law. … That’s what I think Europe and the international community have to debate.” This preferred European stance on terrorism – treating it as a matter for police investigation and prosecution rather than a war – is, by the way, the same method preferred by Candidate John Kerry.

And who is Zapatero’s preferred candidate in the U.S. presidential race? “We’re aligning ourselves with Kerry. …Our alliance will be for peace, against war, no more deaths for oil, and for a dialogue between the government of Spain and the new Kerry administration. …I think Kerry will win. I want Kerry to win.” (This gives Kerry two public endorsements from foreign leaders: Kim Jung Il, North Korea’s Communist dictator and all-round fruitcake, threatening to provide terrorists with nuclear WMD; and now a Socialist intent on appeasing those very same terrorists. Congratulations, Comrade Kerry!)

While some – including the majority of Spanish voters – chided Aznar’s government for pinning early blame on ETA, the Basque terrorist group, before indicating Islamist involvement, the facts are more sobering. The combination of ETA and al-Qa'ida m.o.‘s, together with a growing body of evidence, points to the possibility of a combined operation by the two terror groups – both intent on the overthrow of western governments.

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