Lankan Tahir: Man behind mushroom cloud
As the local Police begin their own investigations to trace the
background of a Sri Lankan who allegedly acted as a middleman for
two Pakistani senior nuclear scientists in transferring nuclear
technology to Iran and Libya, more information about the shadowy
Lankan businessman is pouring in.
Sri Lankan identified as B.S.A. Tahir, 44, has been traced to be
a person born in South India, but had migrated to Sri Lanka when
he was around five years and had reported to be living in the Kandy
Tahir is said to be one of the middlemen who helped Dr. Abdul Qadeer
Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, and scientist
Mohamed Farooq, in selling uranium enriching equipment such as centrifuges
in the blackmarkets in Dubai and else where after getting them manufactured
in a Malaysian-based company.
global adventure of Bukhary Seyed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan passport
holder, began when he was 20 and 24 years later, he is internationally
spoken about with US President George W. Bush himself identifying
him as the man in the centre of a global nuclear blackmarket.
Mr. Tahir as Dr. Khan's deputy, Mr. Bush charged that the Sri Lankan
used his Dubai-based computer company as front for nuclear proliferation
activities of Dr. Khan's network. "Tahir was also its shipping
agent, using his computer firm as cover for the movement of centrifuge
parts to various clients," President Bush said.
an international probe spreading into several European and Asian
capitals, the Sri Lankan police are trying to collect more details
about the family background and business deals of Mr. Tahir who
is now under investigation in Malaysia.
Tahir, who is a close friend of Kamaluddin Abdullah, the son of
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, has not been detained,
but is said to be co-operating with investigators.
of the Sri Lanka's High Commission in Malaysia said the investigators
had so far not contacted the mission. Mr. Tahir, living in an upper-middle
-class suburb of Kuala Lumpur, has a financial interest in a fine-
chocolates franchise in a shopping mall which was opened few years
ago by the wife of a top Malaysian politician.
to New York Times, investigators say Mr. Tahir put together a deal
two years ago for a Malaysian company, Scomi Precision Engineering,
to make nuclear-centrifuge parts for Libya, apparently without telling
the company where the parts were going, according to company officials
and corporate documents. The deal was exposed last October when
a ship destined for Libya, the BBC China, was seized in the Mediterranean.
Precision's parent, the Scomi Group, is principally owned by Kaspadu,
the holding company linked to Mr. Tahir, according to corporate
documents on file with a government regulatory agency in Malaysia.
Investigators say Mr. Tahir, who came to Malaysia in the mid-90s
by way of Dubai, may have been sent by Mr. Khan to secretly procure
also suspect this was not the first time or country in which Mr.
Tahir carried out an operation to acquire nuclear materiel, one
senior investigator said, adding that in Malaysia, Mr. Tahir had
"replicated" earlier operations - though the details of
those are still unknown.
have discovered that Mr. Tahir apparently travelled widely to carry
out his nuclear-technology business. On one occasion, they say,
he went to Casablanca, Morocco, to negotiate with Libyans for the
purchase of the centrifuge parts, which are important in making
fuel for bombs. On a trip to Switzerland, they say, he met with
an engineer who came to Kuala Lumpur to supervise production of
Tahir also made trips to Germany and Turkey to meet with suppliers,
the investigators said. A Malaysian official said Mr. Tahir's network
included two father-and-son teams, one British and one Swiss.
recent weeks, it appears Mr. Tahir has taken steps to cover up his
past. His wife sold her shares in Kaspadu, some of them to the Malaysian
prime minister's son, Kamaluddin Abdullah. In addition, a Dubai
computer company that Western investigators say Mr. Tahir was using
as a front has removed evidence of his involvement from its Web
Tahir is said to have established links with Dr. Khan's network
when he went to New Delhi to study. It was during this time one
of his uncles met Dr. Khan, according to investigators. The uncle
had a business that supplied parts to Dr. Khan's operation.
2001, Mr. Tahir negotiated a contract with Scomi for the manufacture
of high-precision components, Scomi officials have said. At the
time, he was on the board of Kaspadu, according to corporate documents.
Mr. Tahir said the parts were being made for Gulf Technical Industries,
a Dubai company owned by a British engineer, Peter Griffin, a longtime
supplier to Dr. Khan during the time he was building Pakistan's
Three million dollars in two brief cases
Kuala Lumpur, Saturday -Malaysian police said on Friday
that Mr. Tahir had claimed that Dr. Khan sold nuclear centrifuge
parts to Iran in the 1990s. Mr. Tahir told police that Dr. Khan
asked him to send centrifuges to Iran in 1994 or 1995, according
to an official report which will be handed to the International
Atomic Energy Agency.
containers of used centrifuge units -- which can be used for enriching
uranium for nuclear weapons -- were shipped from Pakistan to Iran
via Dubai and were paid for with about three million dollars in
cash, Mr. Tahir said.
cash was brought in two briefcases and kept in an apartment that
was used as a guesthouse by the Pakistani nuclear arms expert (Khan)
each time he visited Dubai," according to the report. Mr. Tahir
also said Dr. Khan told him that a "certain amount of UF6 (enriched
uranium) was sent by air from Pakistan to Libya" around 2001.
Khan, a disgraced one-time national hero credited with making Pakistan
a nuclear power, confessed this month to leaking nuclear secrets.
He was later pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf.
declined to say today what will happen to the man police say confessed
to a web of dealings with Pakistani atomic scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan,
including selling nuclear centrifuges to Iran. Malaysian Foreign
Minister Syed Hamid Albar brushed off questions today
about what was next for 44-year-old Tahir, labelled by Washington
as Dr. Khan's deputy and money launderer.
the businessman remains free in the country, a Malaysian intelligence
source said on Friday he had left his house but remained in the
capital Kuala Lumpur. Syed Hamid told reporters police
would handle any U.S. government inquiries on Mr. Tahir. -
The India Today in its today's issue has revealed these details
about Mr. Tahir's activities: Pakistan investigators believe Khan
operated through a host of frontmen and middlemen in several countries
to ship nuclear equipment and components to these countries.
them is alleged to be a Sri Lankan national Syed Abu Taheer Bukhari
residing in Dubai, whose father was a close friend of Khan. In a
bilarlous twist, Taheer complained to Khan of being blackmailed
by a Sri Lankan intelligence official called Harry Jayawardene and
coughed up $1.7 million. Khan was reportedly enraged when he heard
this. Such was Khan's pomposity that, "INDIA TODAY" learns,
that on March 11, 2003, he wrote a four page letter to Sri Lanka
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe complimenting him on his peace
efforts and then outlining the entire blackmail episode and requesting
him to take action against the official.