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Profile: Peter Griffin
Peter Griffin 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]
A. Q. Khan and one of his suppliers, the British businessman Peter Griffin, agree that Griffin will provide more equipment for Khan’s work. The agreement follows a purchase of 20 inverters by Khan from another European supplier, Ernst Piffl (see Spring 1978). However, Khan comes to feel that Piffl cheated him over the price of the inverters and asks Griffin, through his company Weargate Ltd., to take care of future business instead of Piffl. Griffin has already been working with Khan’s purchasing network for some time (see Summer 1976). [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 54, 471] Piffl will be unhappy that he has lost the business and will alert a British member of parliament to what is going on (see July 1978).
A shipment of equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear program is seized in Britain by Customs and Excise. Details of the order are not known, although there has been controversy in Britain over nuclear purchases by Pakistanis for some months. The shipment was apparently prepared by long-time Khan collaborator Peter Griffin of Weargate Ltd. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 100]
The Financial Times runs an article showing that Pakistan is continuing to purchase equipment for its nuclear weapons program in Britain. The activities center on a company called Weargate Ltd., which was involved in a highly publicized deal to export equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear program the year before. The goods being shipped by Weargate are mostly machine tools, and the bulk of the company’s orders come from Pakistan’s Special Works Organization (SWO), an army engineering unit building a uranium enrichment facility at Kahuta for nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan. Peter Griffin, a long-time Khan collaborator and part-owner of Weargate, tells Simon Henderson, a reporter for the paper, that in the last 18 months he has sold £800,000 ($1,800,000) of equipment to the SWO and has still to fill an order for buses and ambulances. Griffin also says, “I am not helping Pakistan make a nuclear bomb, but why shouldn’t Pakistan have a nuclear bomb anyway?” [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 99]
British tax and customs authorities focus on the dealings of Peter Griffin, a British businessman who is known to supply equipment for A. Q. Khan’s nuclear weapons work in Pakistan. Griffin will later say that he speaks to the authorities at this time and justifies what he is doing to them: “Customs started causing me endless headaches. I told the tax and customs people that I was never curious and never asked questions. I did everything within export control legislation. I was a businessman. I never sold a bullet, never sold anything that would kill anyone. When the Brits tried to appeal to my better nature and said, ‘This is nuclear stuff you’re contributing to,’ I said, ‘As far as I am concerned A. Q. Khan’s work is for peaceful purposes only and I believe that all countries have an unalienable right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. I’ll stop just as soon as you stop selling small arms, handcuffs, and torture equipment to African countries.’” Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will comment, “From now on this would be Griffin’s justification for all the work he would do for Khan.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 55]
British authorities intercept telexes between Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and British businessman Peter Griffin, who has been supplying parts for Khan’s nuclear weapons program (see Summer 1976). Griffin will comment: “I would get my usual telex from Khan and the next day a telex from [British] Customs with lists of all the new things going on to the export control list, which coincidentally were all the things that Khan had just asked for.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 55]
British businessman Peter Griffin is unable to obtain a license to export inverters to Pakistan, where they are wanted by his customer A. Q. Khan for nuclear weapons work. Griffin tries to obtain the inverters from Emerson Industrial Controls, which had previously supplied Khan with them through both Griffin and another intermediary (see Spring 1978). However, Griffin’s applications for an export license are refused twice. This is because the British government is now aware of the transactions and has placed inverters on its export control list (see November 1979). [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 55]
A computer specialist working for Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan is hired by British intelligence to inform on Khan’s nuclear proliferation network. According to long-time Khan associate Peter Griffin, this occurs during negotiations with a British mainframe computer supplier to which Griffin introduced Khan. The computer specialist comes over to Britain and, while meeting with one of the computer company’s owners, admires his Bentley, a car he could not afford on his Pakistani salary. According to Griffin, the owner says, “You can have one just like it if you agree to work for the British.” Presumably, this indicates that the computer company owner has already had contact with British intelligence. The specialist agrees, but Khan finds out he has been turned and fires him in 1980. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 55-56]
British Customs and Excise officers interview Peter Griffin, a British businessman who supplies equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Griffin tells customs that he has recently received an order for six devices known as mandrels, equipment used to produce high-precision cylindrical objects. Griffin knows it will be difficult to deliver this order, as a previous order of equipment was seized by customs (see February 1979). He has informed the head of Pakistan’s Special Works Organization (SWO) that he will be unable to ship them, because he will not get an export license. However, he obtains the mandrels and moves them to an export packager, to stop them being damaged. Apparently, they are the final piece of equipment ordered by SWO for the production of bellows, which a 2005 customs report will describe as “centrifuge component parts.” Griffin tells investigators that he did not originally understand what the equipment was to be used for, but now realizes its intended use. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 99-100] Abdus Salam, one of Griffin’s business partners, was put under surveillance the previous year (see (Fall 1979)).
The British security service MI5 attempts to recruit Peter Griffin, a key associate of Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan. Griffin, who has been working with Khan for some time (see Summer 1976), supplies him with equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear program. According to Griffin, he is offered £50,000 (about $100,000 at this time) to inform for the agency, but he tells them his “integrity [is] not for sale.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 55] Despite this apparent refusal, according to authors David Armstrong and Joe Trento: “Some US and European intelligence officials have suggested that Griffin, like others who have had dealings with A. Q. Khan, may have been cooperating with Western authorities, perhaps for a very long time. Asked by one of the authors in a June 2006 e-mail exchange whether he had provided assistance to any Western intelligence service, Griffin will offer a one word reply: ‘Later.’” However, Griffin will not subsequently enlarge on this. [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 217]
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]
A. Q. Khan supplier Peter Griffin is threatened in Bonn, Germany. This threat may be part of a campaign by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad targeting Khan’s European suppliers, which is ongoing at this time (see Early 1981). Griffin, who is in Bonn to collect money for shipments of equipment to Khan’s nuclear program in Pakistan from Britain, will later say: “I was in a bar when a stranger sat down next to me. ‘You’re Peter Griffin,’ he said. ‘We don’t like what you’re doing, so stop it.” Griffin does not stop doing business with Khan, but begins keeping records of all his business dealings and movements, puts his company records in a bank vault, and tells his wife that if anything should happen to him, she should give everything to their son. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 88]
Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan sends one of his associates, Peter Griffin, a copy of the book The Islamic Bomb. The book has the dedication, “With kindest regards, my friend, Peter Griffin,” and is signed “Dr. AQ Khan.” It will be seized several years later by British customs agents during a search of Griffin’s home. The book details Khan’s role in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and the help provided to him by Griffin and one of Griffin’s partners, Abdus Salam. Griffin had earlier claimed he did not understand what Khan was doing with the technical equipment he shipped to him (see 1980), but the book must remove any doubts about the real nature of Khan’s work. Despite this, Griffin continues to work with Khan for a number of years, and will later say, “Anything that could be sent to Pakistan, I sent to Pakistan.” [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 102]
People of various nationalities are seen at guest houses associated with Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan in Kahuta, near his main research facility. Muhammad Shafiq ur-Rehman, son of Khan’s military aide Sajawal Khan Malik, will say: “The two guest houses beside the lake were chock-a-block with foreigners. It was Babel. We were up to our necks in North Koreans, Chinese, Iranians, Syrians, Vietnamese, and Libyans. Dr. Sahib [Khan] never ceased to amaze me how he got these people in and out with no questions asked.” Peter Griffin, a British businessman who is a key supplier for Khan’s nuclear proliferation network, will confirm the presence of the North Koreans. Based on interviews with Griffin, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will write: “[T]eams from [North Korea] were semi-permanently lodged at the guest house next door [to Khan’s residence]. Griffin frequently saw them when he was supplying building materials to Khan in the mid-1990s, although the North Koreans spoke insufficient English to take part in any conversation.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 255, 277]
Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, a key associate of Pakistani nuclear proliferator A. Q. Khan, calls British businessman Peter Griffin to inquire about purchasing various machines for a workshop to be set up in Dubai. Griffin will later say he asks Tahir, “Is it nuclear?” but Tahir replies it is not. Tahir apparently tells Griffin the machines are for the Libyan National Oil Company, which wants to replace burnt-out machinery—a workshop in Dubai could manufacture spare parts without being troubled by sanctions. Griffin will say, “I saw no problem with that and sent over a container-load of catalogs, all the usual stuff for a standard machine shop.” Nothing will happen with the deal, which will turn out to be related to Libya’s nuclear program, until 1997 (see August 1997). [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 366]
An audit of SMB Distribution, a Dubai-based company owned by Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, finds a series problems in its accounts. The audit is conducted by Peter Griffin, like Tahir an associate of A. Q. Khan’s, at Tahir’s request. Based on an interview of Griffin, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will say that Griffin discovers “major discrepancies between what was being bought and sold” by the company. This will lead Griffin to be suspicious of SMB Distribution, but he will continue to do business with Tahir (see, for example, July 2000). [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 368]
Peter Griffin, a British businessman who has been working with the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network for two decades (see Summer 1976), sets up a company called Gulf Technical Industries (GTI) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The company’s establishment is a result of an order one of Khan’s other associates, Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, has told Griffin he will place with him. Tahir first mentioned the order, said to be worth $10 million, in 1994 (see May 1994), but nothing had come of it then. Tahir now says that the deal, which he claims is for a machine shop to produce spare parts for the Libyan National Oil Company, is back on. As a result of Tahir’s inquiry, Griffin moves back to Dubai with his wife Anna and starts the company up. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 366]
A five-day wedding celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, provides an opportunity for key players in A. Q. Khan’s nuclear smuggling ring to get together and discuss moving some of their operations from Dubai to Southeast Asia and Africa. The groom is Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, a key facilitator for Khan who is to marry a woman named Nazimah, the daughter of his aunt and a Malaysian diplomat. Other key players who attend the meeting include European figures in the network Henk Slebos and Peter Griffin, Griffin’s wife Anna, Brigadier Sajawal Khan Malik, a Pakistani military official close to Khan, Farooq Hashmi and Mohammad Farooq, other Pakistani associates of Khan, and Dr. Riaz Chowhan, a general and Khan’s physician. Abdul Siddiqui, father of a London-based Khan associate, is also in attendance, as are 300 employees from a Dubai-based Khan front company called SMB Computers and 100 scientists from Khan Research Laboratories in Pakistan. Griffin will say that Khan keeps a low profile at the wedding, commenting, “He made no mention of the recent nuclear tests in Pakistan and kept in the background throughout the celebration.” Khan and his associates spend some time planning to relocate some of their operations, as their hub in Dubai is now well known to intelligence services (see Early 1998). Some elements are to be moved to Southeast Asia and some to Africa, and a new client list is also discussed. Intelligence agents working for Britain and the US also attend the wedding and learn of what Khan is planning. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 282-283]
Entity Tags: SMB Computers, Riaz Chowhan, Peter Griffin, Kahuta Research Laboratories, Henk Slebos, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Abdul Siddiqui, Anna Griffin, Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, Farooq Hashmi, Mohammad Farooq
Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network
Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, a Malaysia-based associate of A. Q. Khan, pays $2 million into the account of Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), a Dubai-based company run by another of Khan’s associates named Peter Griffin. According to Griffin, Tahir told him the money was to pay for a workshop to manufacture spare parts for the Libyan oil industry (see August 1997), although in reality it is to pay for components for Libya’s nuclear weapons program. The workshop is understandably not built and Tahir regularly calls Griffin to ask him to transfer money to different accounts. Griffin will comment: “He’d say, ‘I promised to send some money, can you send it for me to [Gotthard] Lerch, to Gunes [Cire, both associates of Khan], to Nauman Shah [Khan’s son-in-law]?’” Griffin apparently does not ask any questions about the payments, of which there are at least nine. He will recall: “I did point out to Tahir at one stage that this money was coming out of the Libyan National Oil Company cash. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back,’ and he did. The only problem, as I realized to my cost later, was I had no paperwork for these deals. Nothing to protect myself with.” Griffin is suspicious, but having known Tahir for years, not unduly so: “I was asked later if it had not appeared unusual to use money set aside for one thing to pay off another, without making any official receipts. But I said: ‘Tahir was a good friend. It was like a mate asking to borrow a fiver.’ But since there was nothing in writing I could not prove that Tahir had lied to me. I was disappointed. I’d known Tahir since he was a kid.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 366-367]
Two lathes ordered by Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, an associate of A. Q. Khan, are delivered to Dubai from Spain. The delivery is organized by another associate of Khan’s, Peter Griffin, who set up a company used by Khan’s network in Dubai in 1997 (see August 1997). “Again, he [Tahir] said they [the lathes] were for the Libyan National Oil Company,” Griffin will say. “They were 15.6 tons each, enormous machines as big as my living room, each costing $350,000. I delivered them to Dubai in July or August 2000. Tahir asked if I could rent some factory space and set them up so his clients could see them running.” However, the clients do not show up and Tahir calls a month later to say that the clients will take the lathes away. When the Khan network begins to unravel in early 2004, Griffin will learn that Tahir has told Malaysian authorities that the lathes were for the Libyan nuclear weapons program. Griffin will then investigate what happened to the lathes and learn from customs authorities in Dubai that Tahir had sent at least one of them to South Africa in November 2000, using a forged invoice from Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), a company owned by Griffin. Griffin will claim not to have known anything about the shipment to South Africa, but the freight is allegedly paid in Dubai by GTI. The delivery address is Tradefin Engineering, a metalworking company based in Vanderbijlpark, a town close to Johannesburg. Documents indicate the lathe remains in South Africa for 13 months, until it is shipped back to Dubai, apparently en route to Malaysia. Griffin will comment: “It was possible that it had been adapted while away in South Africa, modified to be able to perform very fine definition work, something it couldn’t do when it left my warehouse.” The lathe is dispatched to Malaysia in December 2001, apparently on the orders of a Mr. Hussain of GTI. However, Griffin will say that he does not employ anyone of that name and that the contact number Mr. Hussain gave was for SMB Distribution, a company owned by Tahir. Based on these events, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will conclude that Tahir had attempted to frame Griffin for the deal. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 367]
Peter Griffin, an associate of A. Q. Khan’s who has been doing business with him for decades (see Summer 1976), decides to return to Europe. Griffin has spent the last several years in Dubai running a company called Gulf Technical Industries, which has been used for Khan’s assistance to Libya (see (July or August 2000) and July 2000). However, Griffin now decides to leave Dubai and return to Europe, where he takes up residence in a villa in France. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 365, 368]
A set of aluminum tubes arrives at the docks in Dubai addressed to a company called Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), which is owned by Peter Griffin, a long-time A. Q. Khan associate. Griffin will later recall that he gets a call from his office manager: “He said he’d been advised by a shipping company there was a consignment of aluminum tubes that had just arrived at Dubai docks for GTI but he could not find any record of us having ordered them.” Griffin realizes immediately that the aluminum tubes may well be for use in a nuclear weapons program by the Khan network. He will comment, “I sensed right away it was [Bukhary Sayed Abu] Tahir,” an associate of both Khan and Griffin (see August 1997). Griffin calls Tahir, who admits the tubes are really for him, but that he has used the name of Griffin’s company for the delivery. Although Griffin and Tahir have an ongoing business relationship, Griffin is angry at being used, and says: “This is the end of it. If you do anything like this again I’ll take you to court in Dubai. Do you hear?” It appears that the tubes are for Libya’s illicit nuclear weapons program, and that, in Griffin’s words, he is being set up “as the fall guy” if anything should go wrong. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 366-367]
Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, an associate of A. Q. Khan, sends an emissary to see one of his business partners, Peter Griffin, to tell him to destroy all records of his dealings with Tahir. Griffin and Tahir have been assisting Khan’s activities for some time, but their most recent transactions concerned equipment for Libya’s outlaw nuclear program (see August 1997). Griffin will later say: “A Dubai sponsor who had helped us start up a company arrived on my doorstep in France in November or December 2003. He just turned up out of the blue. He had an important message from Tahir in Kuala Lumpur. He wanted me to destroy all records of our business together. I rang Tahir and asked what was going on. He said, ‘I can’t say, I can’t talk to you. Just destroy everything.’ I said, ‘No, these documents are my only insurance.’” At this time Tahir is under investigation by Malaysian authorities for nuclear proliferation activities in their country (see December 2001), and this is apparently an attempt to get Griffin to destroy documents showing he did not know the equipment he helped Tahir procure was for Libya’s nuclear program. If Griffin destroyed the documents, Tahir would be able to place a greater part of the blame on him. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 365-366]
Gulf Technical Industries, a Dubai-based company used by the A. Q. Khan proliferation network to facilitate Libya’s nuclear weapons program (see August 1997 and July 2000), collapses. The reason is that the firm, owned by long-term Khan associate Peter Griffin, suffers adverse publicity following Khan’s public confession to his nuclear proliferation activities (see February 4, 2004). This leads its local sponsor to pull out and its bank to close its accounts, meaning the company has to close. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 529]
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