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Profile: SMB Distribution
SMB Distribution was a participant or observer in the following events:
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]
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]
At some point after the A. Q. Khan network begins to unravel (see February 4, 2004), Saeed Buhary, the younger brother of one Khan’s most important associates, is arrested in Dubai. Buhary is the brother of Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir and the chairman of SMB Distribution, a Dubai-based company Tahir owned that was involved in Khan’s proliferation operations. According to authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, Buhary is locked up “without a proper trial” in a prison known as the “Jumeira Hilton,” which has “a reputation for harsh conditions.” Buhary will reportedly still be there in 2007. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 369, 529]
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