Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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The Ongoing Mystery of A.Q. Khan's Network
One of the most dangerous unsolved mysteries in the shadow world of terror and counter-terror is the extent of the nuclear network of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

How little the outside world has been able to glean about his operations is clear by the fact that the Pakistani government has refused to let anyone question him, and has allowed him to live in relative luxury despite his proven record of providing nuclear equipment to North Korean, Iran, Libya and possibly others.

All have been or continue to be state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea and Iran, particularly, (Libya has supposedly given up its nuclear arsenal that Khan was providing) are dangerous not only to their neighborhoods, but to the world.

Yet the outside world, including allied intelligence services, have been given no access to Khan since he was placed under house arrest a few years ago. His network has never been dismantled, and that network retains access to nuclear designs and facilities that pose a real danger to the world.

It looks like the hermetic seal around Khan in Pakistan is unlikely to change. Prime minister Shaukat Aziz recently reaffirmed Pakistan's refusal to let anyone except Pakistanis talk to the scientist.

This is clearly a dangerous game. Khan's network stretched around Europe and into South Africa and Dubai. Some of the most prominent actors were put out of business, most only temporarily. Many have never been sidelined at all.

In many ways, what is known about Khan is similar to what is known of Viktor Bout-both appear to be men of mediocre talent in their chosen professions but with uncanny abilities to see the holes in the new world order that can be exploited for profit.

Both used offshore facilities, both used Dubai and the UAE as hubs, and both mastered the art of staying several steps ahead of authorities. And in both cases, intelligence communities in several countries had the men under observation, understood their networks and failed to take action.

While Bout moved weapons and other materiel for different factions Khan was playing with nukes. He is also an Islamist who believes it is his divine duty to arm Islam.

Because of that, and the access to nuclear material, the Khan network remains a danger, even while Khan is comfortably on the sidelines.
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