Saturday, October 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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TRIBUNE SPECIAL
Father of Pak nuclear programme arrested
Charged with working on Osama bin Laden’s bomb project
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 26
Pakistan’s security agencies have arrested yet another nuclear scientist, third in last one week, on suspicion of working on a top secret project of helping Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida outfit to prepare a nuclear weapon, well-placed sources said here today.

Though the name of the third arrested scientist has not been revealed, it is suspected that he could be either Dr A Q Khan himself — the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme — or one of his close associates.

The arrests have taken place on pressure from the USA which provided solid intelligence to the Pakistanis about the scientists’ secret and dangerous activities, which if unchecked, could have armed Islamist terrorists with “the ultimate weapon” in the near future, sources said.

Dr Khan, former Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), is a Mohajir from Bhopal (India) and of late has been based in Lahore since his removal from the country’s top nuke job by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He could never have a smooth relationship with Mr Sharif and after his abrupt removal from the PAEC chairmanship, his relatives, who are living in Karachi, were allegedly tortured by the security agencies.

Dr Khan is said to be a rabid fundamentalist and close to Bin Laden’s Al Qaida network as well as Afghanistan’s ruling militia Taliban.

Sources said the third scientist, believed to be picked up in last 24 hours, is suspected to be linked with Ummah-Tamir-e-Nau (Reconstruction of Muslim Community). The Ummah is affiliated with the now-banned Al Rasheed Trust that, in turn, has links with Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Qaida.

The Ummah, registered as a non-government organisation, was floated by Osama bin Laden for development projects in Afghanistan. However, the three arrested Pakistani scientists are suspected to be using the Ummah for pursuing their private nuclear programme.

Two Pakistani nuclear scientists arrested earlier in the past one week were Sultan Bahiruddin Mehmood and Abdul Majeed.

Mehmood, who was arrested from Islamabad, helped Pakistan to become a nuclear power.

He was conferred the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz award in 1988. Sources said his family admitted to the Pakistani security agencies that Mehmod had been working recently on certain projects in Afghanistan “including land development, education reforms

Before his retirement last year, Mehmood was Project Director of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and had always remained in key positions. Abdul Majid, who was arrested in Lahore, was also retired last year from the PAEC.Back

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