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A. Q. Khan (left) and Pervez Musharraf (right). [Source: CBC] (click image to enlarge)After CIA Director George Tenet visits Pakistan and pressures the Pakistani government to take stronger action against the charity front Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) (see Early October-December 2001), the CIA learns more about the organization. The CIA was previously aware that the two prominent nuclear scientists who co-founded UTN, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudiri Abdul Majeed, had met with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and advised them on how to make a nuclear weapon (see Mid-August 2001). However, the CIA discovers that other nuclear scientists are also connected to UTN, including Mirza Yusef Beg, a former member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), and Humayun Niaz, also formerly with the PAEC. At least two senior Pakistani military officers are also connected to UTN. All these men are brought in and questioned by US officials. But the CIA is unable to question two others connected to UTN, Muhammad Ali Mukhtar, a nuclear physicist who worked for the PAEC as a weapons expert, and Suleiman Asad, who worked at A. Q. Khan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) in its weapons design division. The CIA reasons that these two scientists would be the type of nuclear bomb makers bin Laden was most interested in. However, the Pakistani government claims that the two are in Burma working on a top secret project and cannot be brought back to Pakistan for questioning. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 320-321] Shortly after 9/11, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called one of the leaders of Burma and asked if the two scientists could be given asylum there. [New York Times, 12/9/2001] The CIA is also interested in talking to Hamid Gul, a former ISI director and UTN’s honorary patron, but Pakistan will not allow him to be questioned either, even though he had met with Mahmood in Afghanistan around the time Mahmood met with bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. As a result, the CIA is unable to learn just how much UTN could have assisted al-Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 320-321]
Entity Tags: Suleiman Asad, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, Pervez Musharraf, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Mullah Omar, Humayun Niaz, Hamid Gul, Chaudiri Abdul Majeed, Central Intelligence Agency, Muhammad Ali Mukhtar, Osama bin Laden, Kahuta Research Laboratories, Mirza Yusef Beg
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network
The Washington Times reports that an unpublished report by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton concludes that China is expanding its military and is “building strategic relationships” along sea lanes from the Middle East to Southern China” in ways that suggest defensive and offensive positioning to protect China’s energy interests, but also to serve broad security objectives.” The paper, titled “Energy Futures in Asia,” was commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld. China intends to protect the sea lanes militarily, by strengthening its navy and developing undersea mines and a missile system. The report warns that these capabilities could be used “to deter the potential disruption of its energy supplies from potential threats, including the US Navy, especially in the case of a conflict with Taiwan.” Beijing is also developing strategic alliances with the states along the sea lanes in an effort to increase its influence in the region. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Pakistan - Beijing is constructing a naval base at the Pakistani port of Gwadar and setting up electronic eavesdropping posts in the city which will monitor ship traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Bangladesh - China is developing closer ties to Bangladesh and building a container port facility at the city of Chittagong. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Burma (Myanmar) - China has established close relations with the military regime of Burma. It has provided Burma with “billions of dollars in military assistance to support a de facto military alliance,” is building naval bases there, and has already positioned electronic intelligence gathering facilities on islands in the Bay of Bengal and near the Strait of Malacca. Burma’s location is of strategic importance to Beijing because of its close proximity to the Strait of Malacca, through which 80 percent of China’s imported oil is shipped. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Cambodia - In November 2003, China agreed to provide training and equipment to Cambodia’s military. China and Cambodia are engaged in a joint effort to build a railway from southern China to the sea. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Thailand - China may fund a $20 billion canal that would cut across the Kra Isthmus and allow ships to bypass the Strait of Malacca. [Washington Times, 1/18/2005]
Incoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calls North Korea one of the world’s six “outposts of tyranny.” (The others are Cuba, Myanmar—which Rice identifies by its old name of Burma—Iran, Belarus, and Zimbabwe.) In 2008, author J. Peter Scoblic will cite Rice’s characterization as another example of overheated Bush administration rhetoric that makes it all the more difficult to negotiate with the obstinate North Koreans over their nuclear program (see August 2003). [US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1/18/2005 ; BBC, 12/2007; Scoblic, 2008, pp. 243]
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