Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is A.Q. Khan on the Mossad's hit list?

Last week, the government of Pakistan released A.Q. Khan (pictured), the world's worst nuclear proliferator, from house arrest. Khan had been under house arrest since 2004, when it was discovered that he had sold nuclear weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Khan announced immediately that he planned to travel soon, and there is already speculation that he is back up to his old tricks.

India's Economic Times reports that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency may have different plans for Khan. It makes a plausible case that Khan is prominently featured on a Mossad hit list.
It’s possible, particularly since six of his closest associates, all nuclear scientists from the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), apparently are.

In a recent book on the history of Mossad, author Gordon Thomas says that after tracing the travel paths of Khan’s associates to Saudi Arabia and Tehran during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime, Mossad moved these scientists from their ‘‘detain’’ list to ‘‘kill’’ list.

‘Gideon’s Spies’ records how Mossad got into the job of tracking the disgraced scientist and his network after al-Qaida’s No. 3, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, revealed a plot to plant a ‘dirty bomb’ in the US to American investigators in 2003.

Soon after, the book relates, Mossad told the US that Khan had travelled to Afghanistan to meet Osama bin Laden in April 2003, along with another nuclear scientist, Murad Qasim, a leading expert in the intricacies of centrifugal technology in Khan’s laboratories.
Curiously, the rest of this article seems to be missing from the Economic Times. But I found it here.
The publication of book coincides with revived fears that the proliferation network established by Khan, who was last week released by a Pakistani court, could easily be resurrected with his old associates again footloose.

In his book, Thomas says that in May 2003, Khan hosted six nuclear scientists at his home in Rawalpindi - Murad Qasim, Muhammed Zubair, Bashiruddin Mahmood, Saeed Akhtar, Imtiaz Baig and Waheed Nasir. All had earlier helped out with the North Korean nuclear project. Bashiruddin Mahmood, one of the scientists who had been "dropped" by the Pakistan government, had actually admitted to meeting Osama and Mullah Omar, but told Pakistani investigators that he had refused their demand for a dirty bomb.

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed their names to US officials, these scientists disappeared from Pakistan. By 2004-2005, they were visible in Saudi Arabia, though by that time Khan was under house arrest. By October 2005, the book says, Mossad traced Khan's associates to Tehran, a week after North Korea transferred liquid propellant to Iran for its Shahab 3 missile.
Read the whole thing.

As far as I can tell, the other six nuclear scientists are in Iran, where they have been since 2006.

Would the Mossad like to get Khan and the others? You bet they would. Is there a plan for them to do so? I would bet that the current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, would never authorize it. Would Binyamin Netanyahu? That depends on how he views the failed attempt to assassinate Khaled Meshaal - the chief of Hamas' political bureau - in Jordan in 1997 during Netanyahu's previous term in office.
In 1997, Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israeli prime minister, sent a two-man hit squad to kill Meshaal.

The agents attempted to inject a slow-acting lethal chemical into his ear on a public street, but the operation was botched and the men were soon arrested.

King Hussein, leader of Jordan, was outraged by the attack and rushed to negotiate a deal whereby Netanyahu sent over the antidote to the chemical.

Netanyahu had to release more than 40 Palestinians from Israeli prisons to secure the release of the two men who attacked Meshaal.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas' historic founder who served nine years in jail, was among the Palestinians released.

Yassin was killed in 2004 in an Israeli air raid on Gaza, while Abdel Aziz Rantissi, who co-founded Hamas with Yassin, was also killed by the Israeli military in the same year.
If Netanyahu regards the Meshaal attempt as a mistake, I would bet that he won't go after Khan and his cohorts either (unless the only reason he regards it as a mistake is where it was attempted - Jordan is one of two Arab countries with whom we have peace treaties and Netanyahu's relations with King Hussein were always strained). But if Netanyahu believes that going after Meshaal was a good idea that was badly executed, I could see him authorizing the Mossad to go after Khan and the other six.

In any event, you can bet that if the Mossad carries out such an operation, you and I will be the last to find out about, if we find out about it at all.


At 1:14 PM, Blogger sassinfras said...

khan will be a hard man to kill. every country with a interst in this fellow will be watching him or protecting him.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think Bibi was angry at the Mossad for having put him in an untenable position. He doesn't disapprove of target killings and moreover, I believe he has a score to settle with Khaled Meshaal. This time there is no King Hussein and the job will be done right.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Ismail said...

Whatever happens to A.Q. Khan, it will be an accident, I'm sure. Mobile phones and headrests in luxury SUVs explode all the time...

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Yup. Happened a year ago today in fact.


Post a Comment

<< Home