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Profile: Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam was a participant or observer in the following events:
Abdus Salam, a procurement agent for the A. Q. Khan nuclear network, misdials a number for US-based machine tool giant Rockwell, instead calling the British agent of its power tool division, Scimitar, in Wales. Salam wants to buy $1 million in power tools and the person on the other end of the line, sales manager Peter Griffin, is surprised by the request, but happy to ship such a large order. This chance encounter will lead to an extremely long relationship between Griffin and Khan, with Griffin supplying a very large amount of equipment for Khan’s efforts. Griffin initially travels to London to meet Salam, who had been put in touch with Khan through a mutual acquaintance. Overcoming his initial wariness about the business, Griffin leaves Scimitar to set up a company called Weargate Ltd, which works with an electrical shop called Salam Radio Colindale to supply Khan’s needs. Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will later comment that Salam Radio Colindale is a “down on its luck electrical shop which proved terrific cover for such a discreet business,” and that it “would become one of dozens run by expat Pakistanis from similarly unassuming corner stores, supplying components to Khan.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 38-39] Griffin becomes a director of the company in 1977 or 1979, when it changes its name to SR International. However, he is not an owner of the company, which is held by Salam and his wife Naseem. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 38-39; Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 101]
Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and people related to him start to travel to Britain to purchase components for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Khan’s link to the program is already known to Western intelligence agencies, but it is unclear how closely he and his associates are followed at this time. On one trip in August 1977, Khan meets British businessmen Peter Griffin and Abdus Salam, who supply equipment for Khan. The meeting is also attended by a number of Pakistanis: Brigadier Sajawal Khan Malik, a civil engineer building a nuclear facility for Khan, Dr. Farooq Hashmi, his deputy, Dr. G. D. Alam, Khan’s computer expert, and a brigadier general named Anis Nawab. Griffin will become a key supplier for Khan, and Pakistanis will frequently visit him in London. Khan sometimes comes himself if a large order is to be placed, but most times he sends a representative, Colonel Rashid Ali Qazi, and other scientists. After each visit, Griffin receives a telex specifying exactly which parts Khan wants. Griffin also becomes friends with Khan and is invited to visit him at his home in Pakistan. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 39-40]
British authorities begin surveillance of Abdus Salam, a businessman based in Britain who supplies equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, in particular through his company SR International (see Summer 1976). The surveillance is apparently prompted by public controversy in Britain over the sale of components that are used in Pakistan’s nuclear program. According to the Pakistani book Long Road to Chagai, Salam is “kept under surveillance,” and a secret search of his office reveals “documents and drawings which were traced to the Urenco plant in the Netherlands,” where Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan used to work (see October 1974). The book’s author, Shahid Ur-Rehman, will say that this information “was revealed in background interviews by Dr. A. Q. Khan himself” and was confirmed by another source. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 100, 246] Salam’s associate Peter Griffin is interviewed by British customs some time in the next year (see 1980).
Abdus Salam, a supplier for the Pakistani nuclear weapons program run by A. Q. Khan, moves from Britain to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 102; Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 56] Salam had supplied equipment for the weapons program from Britain, but the local authorities became extremely interested in his activities (see (Fall 1979)), forcing his relocation. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 102] The move is performed in co-operation with the British businessman Peter Griffin, a close associate of Salam and Khan who also wants to leave Britain because of heavy interest in his work by the authorities. Salam and Griffin agree that Salam will move to Dubai first, with Griffin remaining in Britain to look after that end of Khan’s supply chain. Griffin will say that one reason for the move is that “UK exports to Dubai were not so heavily watched and from there could go anywhere.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 56] In Dubai, Salam serves as a director of a company called Khalid Jassim General Trading, apparently named after his local partner. When visited by a reporter for The Times of London in September 1980 (see September 1980), the company consists of a single room inside a small apartment and has only two office staff. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 102]
Times of London reporter Simon Henderson finds equipment needed for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program outside the office of a supplier in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The equipment, found in a hallway outside the office of Khalid Jassim General Trading, is in four boxes labelled “Mikron infrared thermometers.” The manufacturer, Mikron Instruments of New Jersey, had been told the instruments were for a cement factory in Sharjah, near Dubai. However, Mikron says the instruments can be used to measure the temperature of “moving objects without making contact and in conditions of extreme radiation,” which Henderson thinks makes them “ideal” for use in uranium enrichment centrifuges. Khalid Jassim General Trading and one of its owners, Abdus Salam, have been shipping parts to A. Q. Khan, head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, for some time (see Summer 1976). [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 106-7]
Some time in 1982 or 1983, Abdus Salam, a member of the nuclear proliferation ring run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan, leaves Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Salam had been doing business there for some time, using the company Khalid Jassim General Trading (see Before September 1980). According to David Reed, who will later do business with Salam in Florida, Salam departs Dubai after being sued by the local partner in a joint venture, presumably Khalid Jassim. Salam will tell Reed that the partner claimed to a court that he—the partner—had started the business and put up all the money, the court had sided with the local, and Salam had lost all his money and been sent to jail. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 108] Salam arrives in the US around this time (see December 31, 1982).
Abdus Salam, a member of the nuclear equipment purchasing ring run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan, sets up a business named International Reliance in Florida. The name is similar to a British-based business, Source Reliance International (a.k.a. SR International), in which Salam has been a partner and which has been active in the nuclear ring (see Summer 1976). Around the same time, Salam also establishes a number of other US businesses, including three import-export firms, two trading companies, two communications outfits, a computer retailer, two hospitality companies, a financial services enterprise, and several companies involved in indeterminate business. It is unclear if Salam is living in the US at this time or arrives some time the following year. Before coming to the US, he resided in Britain and then the United Arab Emirates, but leaves there around this time, apparently due to a business dispute (see 1982-1983). Authors Joe Trento and David Armstrong will write that given Salam’s involvement in proliferation activities in Britain and Dubai, “it seems reasonable to assume that the US authorities would have kept tabs on him once he arrived.” However, no information about any surveillance of or cooperation with Salam on the part of US authorities is definitively known. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 114]
Abdus Salam, a member of the nuclear proliferation ring run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan (see Summer 1976 and Before September 1980), has multiple dealings with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) while residing in the US.
"No Payments" - Julio Bagiardi, one of Salam’s partners in a chain of retail stores, will say: “All he wanted to do was make a lot of deposits at the same bank. He insisted on keeping [all his deposits] at BCCI.” Salam is also “very forceful” in persuading Bagiardi and the other partners to do the same. If they do so, according to Salam, they will have access to “unlimited” cash and, if they make daily deposits, “it would never be a problem if we needed to get money.” In addition, “they [would] never have to pay nothing back,” as there would be “no payments.” Bagiadri will add that Salam “knew somebody” at the bank. David Reed, another partner in the retail stores, will confirm Salam had an account with the bank.
Unusually Generous Overdraft Loan - One transaction is the granting in 1989 of an overdraft, arranged with support from the branch in Park Lane, London. That branch’s manager recommends that its Tampa branch make a loan to Salam, but instead it grants him a “virtually unsecured” $120,000 overdraft line. The overdrafts are usually for customers with substantial account balances, so it is unclear why one is given to Salam, whose balance is “very skimpy,” according to sources for authors David Armstrong and Joe Trento. The line is later moved to one of Salam’s companies, Centaur Impex, backed only by a personal guarantee from Salam and Centaur’s assets. By this time BCCI is in serious trouble and the line is transferred to the Miami branch, which sues Salam for non-payment of the balance, around $50,000. Armstong and Trento’s sources will say that the fact that Salam “had the influence to obtain such a loan without any meaningful collateral” is “very curious,” adding that it “suggests that he may have had influence among highly placed people within BCCI and/or Pakistan.”
"No Recollection" of Salam - When Armstrong and Trento investigate the relationship between Salam and BCCI for a 2007 book, they will have difficulty obtaining information. The court has destroyed records, the lawyers say they have too, BCCI’s liquidators are unable to provide any information, prosecutors and investigators involved in proceedings against BCCI say they knew nothing about Salam, and the various officials of the bank where Salam deposited his money every day for years “either would not return phone calls, denied knowing who Salam was, or claimed that, while the name did ‘ring a bell,’ they could recall no specifics about their former client.” [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 108-111]
Abdus Salam, an associate of Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan, obtains US citizenship. Salam helped Khan acquire equipment for his nuclear activities in the 1970s and ‘80s (see Summer 1976 and Before September 1980), but moved to the US around 1982 (see December 31, 1982). Authors David Armstrong and Joe Trento will investigate why an associate of Khan’s was granted US citizenship, and will find that the first mention of him in immigration records dates from 1995, when he was granted work authorization, although this was more than a decade after he arrived in the country. Before getting citizenship, his immigration file contains only records of him entering or leaving the country on his British passport or alien residency card. There are no red flags and nothing about his business activities, which the two authors find “odd,” although accessible records only began in 1987. However, they find that in customs and immigration records Salam’s date of birth is a few days off, meaning that making a positive identification is difficult. In addition, his Social Security number is way off—it is actually for a completely different person with a different name and a long criminal record, including cocaine dealing. The authors think that it is unusual Salam was granted citizenship despite this “rather glaring discrepancy.” [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 114-115]
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