From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
From The Sunday Times / January 6, 2008
For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets
A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how
corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to
steal nuclear weapons secrets.
Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for
the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations
while based at the agency’s Washington field office.
She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-
Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11
hijackers while he was in Turkey.
Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the
support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive
military and nuclear institutions.
Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence
that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was
being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the
information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.
The name of the official – who has held a series of top government
posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.
However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US
interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from
the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for
money, position and political objectives.”
She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior
Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding
“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this
case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal
trials,” she said.
Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign
states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government
officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such
as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.
The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint
Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down,
investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain’s
Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations.
Edmonds, a fluent speaker of Turkish and Farsi, was recruited by the
FBI in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Her previous claims
about incompetence inside the FBI have been well documented in
She has given evidence to closed sessions of Congress and the 9/11
commission, but many of the key points of her testimony have remained
secret. She has now decided to divulge some of that information after
becoming disillusioned with the US authorities’ failure to act.
One of Edmonds’s main roles in the FBI was to translate thousands of
hours of conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets
that had been covertly recorded by the agency.
A backlog of tapes had built up, dating back to 1997, which were
needed for an FBI investigation into links between the Turks and
Pakistani, Israeli and US targets. Before she left the FBI in 2002 she
heard evidence that pointed to money laundering, drug imports and
attempts to acquire nuclear and conventional weapons technology.
“What I found was damning,” she said. “While the FBI was
investigating, several arms of the government were shielding what was
The Turks and Israelis had planted “moles” in military and academic
institutions which handled nuclear technology. Edmonds says there were
several transactions of nuclear material every month, with the
Pakistanis being among the eventual buyers. “The network appeared to
be obtaining information from every nuclear agency in the United
States,” she said.
They were helped, she says, by the high-ranking State Department
official who provided some of their moles – mainly PhD students – with
security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities.
These included the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which
is responsible for the security of the US nuclear deterrent.
In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a
$15,000 cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed
location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was
working for the network.
The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less
likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish
Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked
up by the official.
Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a
period of 2 1/2 years. There are almost certainly more.”
The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI
Intercepted communications showed Ahmad and his colleagues stationed
in Washington were in constant contact with attachés in the Turkish
Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-
Qaeda before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning
a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers,
immediately before the attacks.
The results of the espionage were almost certainly passed to Abdul
Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Khan was close to Ahmad and the ISI. While running Pakistan’s nuclear
programme, he became a millionaire by selling atomic secrets to Libya,
Iran and North Korea. He also used a network of companies in America
and Britain to obtain components for a nuclear programme.
Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his
aides met Osama Bin Laden. “We were aware of contact between A Q
Khan’s people and Al-Qaeda,” a former CIA officer said last week.
“There was absolute panic when we initially discovered this, but it
kind of panned out in the end.”
It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States
would have been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.
Edmonds was later to see the scope of the Pakistani connections when
it was revealed that one of her fellow translators at the FBI was the
daughter of a Pakistani embassy official who worked for Ahmad. The
translator was given top secret clearance despite protests from FBI
Edmonds says packages containing nuclear secrets were delivered by
Turkish operatives, using their cover as members of the diplomatic and
military community, to contacts at the Pakistani embassy in
Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for
questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow
aided the attacks.
Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful.
“A primary target would call the official and point to names on the
list and say, ‘We need to get them out of the US because we can’t
afford for them to spill the beans’,” she said. “The official said
that he would ‘take care of it’.”
The four suspects on the list were released from interrogation and
Edmonds also claims that a number of senior officials in the Pentagon
had helped Israeli and Turkish agents.
“The people provided lists of potential moles from Pentagon-related
institutions who had access to databases concerning this information,”
“The handlers, who were part of the diplomatic community, would then
try to recruit those people to become moles for the network. The lists
contained all their ‘hooking points’, which could be financial or
sexual pressure points, their exact job in the Pentagon and what stuff
they had access to.”
One of the Pentagon figures under investigation was Lawrence Franklin,
a former Pentagon analyst, who was jailed in 2006 for passing US
defence information to lobbyists and sharing classified information
with an Israeli diplomat.
“He was one of the top people providing information and packages
during 2000 and 2001,” she said.
Once acquired, the nuclear secrets could have gone anywhere. The FBI
monitored Turkish diplomats who were selling copies of the information
to the highest bidder.
Edmonds said: “Certain greedy Turkish operators would make copies of
the material and look around for buyers. They had agents who would
find potential buyers.”
In summer 2000, Edmonds says the FBI monitored one of the agents as he
met two Saudi Arabian businessmen in Detroit to sell nuclear
information that had been stolen from an air force base in Alabama.
She overheard the agent saying: “We have a package and we’re going to
sell it for $250,000.”
Edmonds’s employment with the FBI lasted for just six months. In March
2002 she was dismissed after accusing a colleague of covering up
illicit activity involving Turkish nationals.
She has always claimed that she was victimised for being outspoken and
was vindicated by an Office of the Inspector General review of her
case three years later. It found that one of the contributory reasons
for her sacking was that she had made valid complaints.
The US attorney-general has imposed a state secrets privilege order on
her, which prevents her revealing more details of the FBI’s methods
and current investigations.
Her allegations were heard in a closed session of Congress, but no
action has been taken and she continues to campaign for a public
She was able to discuss the case with The Sunday Times because, by the
end of January 2002, the justice department had shut down the
The senior official in the State Department no longer works there.
Last week he denied all of Edmonds’s allegations: “If you are calling
me to say somebody said that I took money, that’s outrageous . . . I
do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as
In researching this article, The Sunday Times has talked to two FBI
officers (one serving, one former) and two former CIA sources who
worked on nuclear proliferation. While none was aware of specific
allegations against officials she names, they did provide overlapping
corroboration of Edmonds’s story.
One of the CIA sources confirmed that the Turks had acquired nuclear
secrets from the United States and shared the information with
Pakistan and Israel. “We have no indication that Turkey has its own
nuclear ambitions. But the Turks are traders. To my knowledge they
became big players in the late 1990s,” the source said.
How Pakistan got the bomb, then sold it to the highest bidders
1965 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s foreign minister, says: “If India
builds the bomb we will eat grass . . . but we will get one of our
1974 Nuclear programme becomes increased priority as India tests a
1976 Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist, steals secrets from Dutch uranium
plant. Made head of his nation’s nuclear programme by Bhutto, now
1976 onwards Clandestine network established to obtain materials and
technology for uranium enrichment from the West
1985 Pakistan produces weapons-grade uranium for the first time
1989-91 Khan’s network sells Iran nuclear weapons information and
1991-97 Khan sells weapons technology to North Korea and Libya
1998 India tests nuclear bomb and Pakistan follows with a series of
nuclear tests. Khan says: “I never had any doubts I was building a
bomb. We had to do it”
2001 CIA chief George Tenet gathers officials for crisis summit on the
proliferation of nuclear technology from Pakistan to other countries
2001 Weeks before 9/11, Khan’s aides meet Osama Bin Laden to discuss
an Al-Qaeda nuclear device
2001 After 9/11 proliferation crisis becomes secondary as Pakistan is
seen as important ally in war on terror
2003 Libya abandons nuclear weapons programme and admits acquiring
components through Pakistani nuclear scientists
2004 Khan placed under house arrest and confesses to supplying Iran,
Libya and North Korea with weapons technology. He is pardoned by
President Pervez Musharraf
2006 North Korea tests a nuclear bomb
2007 Renewed fears that bomb may fall into hands of Islamic extremists
as killing of Benazir Bhutto throws country into turmoil
Shopping for Bombs
Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the
A.Q. Khan Network
Author: Gordon Corera
“A.Q. Khan was the world’s leading black market dealer in nuclear
technology, described by a former CIA Director as “at least as
dangerous as Osama bin Laden.” A hero in Pakistan and revered as the
Father of the Bomb, Khan built a global clandestine network that sold
the most closely guarded nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and
Here for the first time is the riveting inside story of the rise and
fall of A.Q. Khan and his role in the devastating spread of nuclear
technology over the last thirty years. Drawing on exclusive interviews
with key players in Islamabad, London, and Washington, as well as with
members of Khan’s own network, BBC journalist Gordon Corera paints a
truly unsettling picture of the ultimate arms bazaar. Corera reveals
how Khan operated within a world of shadowy deals among rogue states
and how his privileged position in Pakistan provided him with the
protection to build his unique and deadly business empire. It explains
why and how he was able to operate so freely for so many years.
Brimming with revelations, the book provides new insight into Iran’s
nuclear ambitions and how close Tehran may be to the bomb.
In addition, the book contains startling new information on how the
CIA and MI6 penetrated Khan’s network, how the U.S. and UK ultimately
broke Khan’s ring, and how they persuaded Pakistan’s President
Musharraf to arrest a national hero. The book also provides the first
detailed account of the high-wire dealings with Muammar Gadaffi, which
led to Libya’s renunciation of nuclear weapons and which played a key
role in Khan’s downfall.
The spread of nuclear weapons technology around the globe presents the
greatest security challenge of our time. Shopping for Bombs presents a
unique window into the challenges of stopping a new nuclear arms race,
a race that A.Q. Khan himself did more than any other individual to
“Shopping for Bombs tells a disturbing tale…. From the 1970s through
the 1990s, Khan secretly disseminated nuclear technology to a number
of rogue states around the world. The full story of Khan’s activities
cannot yet be fully told–much information is under lock and key in
Pakistan, if it has been preserved at all–but a persuasive
preliminary account has been prepared by Gordon Corera.”–Wall Street
A.Q. KHAN NETWORK EVEN HAD SALES BROCHURE
Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in
Authors: Levy, Adrian / Scott-Clark, Catherine
“The shocking, three-decade story of A. Q. Khan and Pakistan’s nuclear
program, and the complicity of the United States in the spread of
On December 15, 1975, A. Q. Khan–a young Pakistani scientist working
in Holland–stole top-secret blueprints for a revolutionary new
process to arm a nuclear bomb. His original intention, and that of his
government, was purely patriotic–to provide Pakistan a counter to
India’s recently unveiled nuclear device. However, as Adrian Levy and
Catherine Scott-Clark chillingly relate in their masterful
investigation of Khan’s career over the past thirty years, over time
that limited ambition mushroomed into the world’s largest clandestine
network engaged in selling nuclear secrets–a mercenary and illicit
program managed by the Pakistani military and made possible, in large
part, by aid money from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Libya,
and by indiscriminate assistance from China.
Most unnerving, the authors reveal that the sales of nuclear weapons
technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, so much in the news today,
were made with the clear knowledge of the American government, for
whom Pakistan has been a crucial buffer state and ally–first against
the Soviet Union, now in the “war against terror.” Every successive
American presidency, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, has turned a
blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear activity–rewriting and destroying
evidence provided by its intelligence agencies, lying to Congress and
the American people about Pakistan’s intentions and capability, and
facilitating, through shortsightedness and intent, the spread of the
very weapons we vilify the “axis of evil” powers for having and fear
terrorists will obtain. “Deception” puts our current standoffs with
Iran and North Korea in a startling new perspective, and makes clear
two things: that Pakistan, far from being an ally, is a rogue nation
at the epicenter of world destabilization; and that the complicity of
the United States has ushered in a new nuclear winter.
Based on hundreds of interviews in the United States, Pakistan, India,
Israel, Europe, and Southeast Asia, “Deception” is a masterwork of
reportage and dramatic storytelling by two of the world’s most
resourceful investigative journalists. Urgently important, it should
stimulate debate and command a reexamination of our national
Pakistan Loosens Reins on A.Q. Khan
BY Mike Nizza / July 2, 2007
Pakistan Loosens Reins on A.Q. KhanAbdul Qadeer Khan, founder of
Pakistan’s nuclear program. (Photo: Associated Press)
A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who ran an arms bazaar that spread
nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea, is starting to feel
freedom again after three and a half years of what amounted to house
arrest. The Associated Press quoted two unnamed Pakistani officials on
”He is virtually a free citizen,” said one of the officials, who
is attached to the nuclear program.
However, the second official said Khan was only allowed to meet
associates and relatives on a list approved by authorities, who would
continue to provide him with a security detail that will restrict his
The news emerged two days after a Pakistani newspaper reported that
one of Dr. Khan’s lawyers “appealed to the nation to come on the
streets and voice protest against the detention of Dr A.Q. Khan just
like it has shown solidarity with the chief justice.” That chief
justice says he was driven from office by the country’s president,
Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on trumped-up corruption charges, and is waging
an intense challenge to Gen. Musharraf’s leadership.
Many Pakistanis revere Dr. Khan as a national hero for creating the
country’s nuclear weapons, and have long viewed his detention at home,
after a presidential pardon, as punishment enough. (Another recent
home detention case in Los Angeles was, by contrast, not seen as
“punishment enough”, to say the least.)
”Who has not proliferated?” said Tasnim Aslam of Pakistan’s foreign
ministry. ”What about all those U.S. scientists who proliferated?
Where do you think the Manhattan Project comes from?”
Another sign of the Pakistani desire to put this whole saga behind
them were the articles in local newspapers last week highlighting a
State Department spokesman’s boilerplate statement that A.Q. Khan’s
nuclear network was closed for good.
Congressman Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from the New York City borough
of Queens whose district is home to many Asian immigrants,
emphatically disagreed during a subcommittee hearing he led, entitled
“A.Q. Khan’s Nuclear Wal-Mart: Out of Business or Under New
“The Administration can believe whatever convenient fiction it likes,”
he said in opening remarks. But “the Khan network is more likely to be
open under new management rather than truly out of business.”
The hedging is due to the small amount of information that is actually
known about Dr. Khan’s network. Pakistan has refused to allow American
officials to interview him, and has released few details otherwise.
Apparently, the A.P. is still on the list, though. A reporter’s call
to Dr. Khan’s home in a wealthy part of Islamabad may be “his first
public comment in about three years,” the wire service said.
Unfortunately, he would only break the sort of news that comes from
Aunt Millie, not international nuclear villains.
”I am feeling much better, though I can’t say I am 100 percent fit,”
The Bush administration has not yet formally responded to the easing
of restrictions on Dr. Khan. It will be interesting to see how the
administration balances the stability of a crucial ally, Gen.
Musharraf, with the desire to see someone who has provided crucial
help to the nuclear ambitions of at least two members of the
president’s “axis of evil” held to greater account.
PARADE MAGAZINE OFFERS ACCIDENTAL TIME CAPSULE
‘A Wrong Must Be Righted’
An interview with Benazir Bhutto
BY Gail Sheehy / December 27, 2007
Editor’s note: The assassination of Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto on Dec.
27 occurred after PARADE’s Jan. 6 issue went to press.
Bhutto’s murder adds more danger and confusion to the already chaotic
situation in this region. Pakistan is vital to U.S. security interests
and the global fight against terrorism. In late November, PARADE sent
Contributing Editor and best-selling author Gail Sheehy to Pakistan to
interview former Prime Minister Bhutto as she campaigned through the
country. Bhutto told Sheehy that she had long been a target of
terrorists as well as the Musharraf government. She knew she could be
murdered at any time.
PARADE’s interview with Bhutto is one of the last interviews of her
After her assassination, PARADE immediately posted the entire
interview online, and Sheehy appeared on network and cable TV news
shows to discuss her face-to-face conversations with Bhutto.
. . .
Dust spirals from village to village across the countryside of
Pakistan. Drums lead men to dance in the streets as they witness the
reappearance of their revered leader. No matter how long and hard I
look, there are no women. Except her.
Ben-a-zir, zindabd! the men chant. Long live Benazir!
Benazir Bhutto has returned to her fractured country to run for prime
minister this Tuesday. She has ruled twice before–and twice been
overthrown. Her caravan continually switches direction to foil suicide
bombers. Only a few weeks earlier, she narrowly escaped blasts that
slaughtered 170 of her supporters. Now I watch her stand tall atop a
truck, waving, white-scarved. Serenely smiling.
That evening, Bhutto invites me to her ancestral home in Larkana,
where she still presides over several thousand acres of feudal lands.
Meeting me alone on the men’s side, she is ready to let down her veil.
Today I saw you campaigning essentially unprotected, I say. How do you
In answer, she invokes her late father, Zulfikar Bhutto, a populist
reformer and the nation’s first democratic prime minister. “From the
day my father was hanged–I was 25–whenever there is a crisis, I go
into a kind of detachment. ‘What should I be doing?’ I just start
ticking off steps. I don’t feel.”
Like her country, Bhutto is a riddle. Brilliant, beautiful, fearless,
she is also ruthlessly ambitious, devious and corrupt. The first
question that perplexes an American: How could Bhutto — Harvard- and
Oxford-educated, unapologetically secular — have become the first
woman elected to lead a Muslim country? In part, the answer is that in
dynastic Pakistan, she is effectively royalty. The second question:
Why should this election matter so much to America? That answer is
simpler. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Also, the most dangerous place
in the world is Pakistan’s lawless border with Afghanistan. It is a Ho
Chi Minh Trail of terrorism where Osama bin Laden is believed to enjoy
Bhutto maintains that the Pakistani army’s decision to overthrow her
in 1996 came after she announced plans to crack down on terrorism. “I
am what the terrorists most fear,” she tells me, “a female political
leader fighting to bring modernity to Pakistan. Now they’re trying to
Talat Masood, a retired general who has advised Bhutto, foresees his
nation breaking in half. ” The only option left to the people of
Pakistan,” he says, “is the military or the militants.”
Or another try at democracy under Bhutto.
. . .
During our talk in Larkana, Bhutto weeps in describing her struggles
after being ousted 12 years ago on charges of plundering the treasury.
Her husband was jailed without charges. She faced constant harassment
by the courts. Even while living with her three children in self-
imposed exile in London and Dubai, she could not open a bank account
or use a credit card because of the charges against her in Pakistan.
“I didn’t have the press, I didn’t have the judiciary, I was all
alone,” she whimpers. As if on cue, tears fall. “I only had God,” she
Bhutto still insists that there are no foreign bank accounts in her
name. I suggest that most are in the names of her mother or of
friends. She feigns surprise–what could others’ finances have to do
with her? “I’m an independent legal entity!” she protests. “What’s the
difference between you and me?”
“One point five billion dollars,” I reply–the amount the Pakistani
government contends that she and her husband pocketed while in power.
She also allegedly siphoned funds from the U.N. Oil for Food program.
Her defense: “Six other companies in Pakistan did it. Nobody
Beneath the theatrics Bhutto uses to such effect is an ominous
reality. “She’s the No. 1 target of the terrorists right now,” says
Humayun Gauhar, a confidant of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Bhutto says she first heard the name Osama bin Laden in 1989, when he
sent $10 million to the ISI, Pakistan’s infamous intelligence service,
to help it overthrow her first government. The ISI has close ties to
radical Islamists and was responsible for the Taliban’s rise to power
in Afghanistan. America’s CIA, which also supported the Afghan holy
warriors in their guerrilla struggle against the Soviet Union in the
1980s, continues to work with the ISI today–theoretically in
suppressing the very terrorist legions it helped to create.
“Benazir tried to push the intelligence service out of politics in her
first term,” acknowledges America’s ambassador to Pakistan at the
time, Robert Oakley. “It was a bold move, but it failed.”
“I was ignorant of the extremist war of these new radical Islamists
until my second term,” Bhutto tells me. Upon re-election in 1993, she
learned of more attempts to assassinate her from the interrogation of
a Pakistani terrorist named Ramzi Yousef–the mastermind of the 1993
bombing of New York’s World Trade Center. That investigation also
revealed to her the existence of madrassas, or Islamic schools,
preaching jihad against the West.
Bhutto tried once more to break the ISI. Again, she failed and was
overthrown–and, with ISI support, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan
became the staging ground for 9/11.
. . .
To understand why Bhutto is so driven, one must imagine her huddling
with her mother in a cold jail cell through a long April night in
1979, waiting for her father to be hanged by the military strongman
who had overthrown him. The young woman and her mother subsequently
lived through repeated raids, arrests and solitary confinement.
Have you healed? I ask this 54-year-old survivor. Or is avenging your
father your solace?
“I feel that a wrong must be righted,” she says. She recalls her
father’s parting words: “You can walk away. You’re young. You can go
to live in London or Paris or Geneva.”
“No,” she told him. “I have to keep up this mission of yours, of
Bhutto’s own family dismisses her little-girl-lost script. “Her
father’s death was enormously convenient for her politically,” her
American-educated niece, Fatima Bhutto, tells me. “She has no legacy
of her own except for corruption and violence, so she rests on her
father’s laurels.” Fatima blames her aunt for her own father’s
assassination in 1996.
Reflecting on the lessons of her two terms as prime minister, Bhutto
tells me, “It’s only now that America has awakened to what we were
already fighting–Islamic jihadis.” Fortunately for her, the West’s
urgent fear of Pakistan as a breeding ground for terrorists has given
Bhutto the chance to redefine herself. During most of her exile, she
was considered irrelevant by Washington. Then she hired Hillary
Clinton’s image-maker, Mark Penn, and began playing up to Musharraf.
When Musharraf’s popularity dove in 2007 after his jailing of judges,
lawyers and journalists, Bhutto suddenly emerged as America’s “ideal.”
U.S. politicians needed her–progressive, secular, female, willing to
compromise–to put a face of democracy on their support for Musharraf’s
True to form, Bhutto manipulated Musharraf to erase the charges
against her, promising not to return to Pakistan until after national
elections. She then broke that promise. But once she sensed that even
her stalwarts were appalled at an arranged political marriage to a
dictator, she spurned Musharraf and became her own woman again.
I sense a dark reflection in both Bhutto’s psychological history and
her country’s constant turmoil–a compulsion to repeat past traumas. A
prime example is the way she returned to her country on Oct. 18.
Ignoring warnings of terrorist cells plotting to kill her, Bhutto
presided from atop a caravan over a parade that took 10 hours to snake
through Karachi. Near midnight, the streetlights went out. The police
disappeared. Her feet swollen from standing, Bhutto ducked below into
a steel command center to remove her sandals. Moments later, a bomb
went off. “I had a sickening, sickening feeling,” she tells me. She
now believes the bomb was wired to an infant that a man had been
trying to hand to her. She recalls saying to the people with her,
“Don’t go outside–another blast will follow.” It did.
When she finally emerged, Bhutto saw bits of brain and flesh and
fingers from 20 members of Benazir’s Brigade–the young guards who wear
red shirts proclaiming “I Give My Life for Bhutto” — decorating the
platform from which she had waved. All told, 170 of her supporters
died. Tellingly, the Musharraf government has mounted no
Her friend Abida Hussain, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.,
tells me that Bhutto later felt sad and asked, “How many lives did I
risk?” Bhutto herself indignantly protests this anecdote to me. “I
said no such thing! We must be out on the streets, or the terrorists
Such is politics in Pakistan.
. . .
Musharraf called the attempt on Bhutto a suicide attack by Islamic
extremists. Bhutto believes it was the work of Musharraf’s allies.
“There are rogue elements within ISI that are ideologically jihadist
and less than enthusiastic about Benazir Bhutto becoming prime
minister a third time,” says a Bhutto adviser. However, Musharraf’s
confidant Gauhar argues to me: “We don’t want a dead Benazir on our
hands! She’d be just another unlikely martyr that we don’t need.”
If Bhutto returns to power this week, Gauhar predicts the U.S. will
finally get what Musharraf has refused it: “She will allow NATO boots
on the ground in our tribal areas and a chance to neuter our nuclear
weapons.” Yet President Bush remains reluctant to give up on
Musharraf, despite the fact that two-thirds of Pakistanis want him to
resign immediately. If the election is rigged, as expected, public
outrage is likely to erupt. Bhutto says she won’t join an illegitimate
government. But her niece, Fatima Bhutto, says, “She’ll work with
anyone to get back into power.”
Despite the corrosion of her reputation by corruption and compromise,
Bhutto appears to be America’s strongest anchor in the effort to turn
back the extremist Islamic tide threatening to engulf Pakistan. What
would you like to tell President Bush? I ask this riddle of a woman.
She would tell him, she replies, that propping up Musharraf’s
government, which is infested with radical Islamists, is only
hastening disaster. “I would say, ‘Your policy of supporting
dictatorship is breaking up my country.’ I now think al-Qaeda can be
marching on Islamabad in two to four years.”
A Letter from the Editors:
Dear PARADE Readers,
PARADE publishes more than 32 million copies of each issue and
distributes them to 415 newspapers across the country. In order to
meet our printing, distribution and insertion deadlines, we must send
the issue to the printer three weeks before the cover date. Our
Benazir Bhutto issue, for example, went to press on Dec. 19. By the
time Ms. Bhutto was slain on Dec. 27, this issue of PARADE was already
printed and shipped to our partner newspapers. Recalling, reprinting
and redistributing our January 6 issue was not an option.
As soon as the news of Ms. Bhutto’s murder broke, we contacted our
distributing newspapers, explained the logistical realities and urged
each of them to run a prominent story on Jan. 6 explaining the
situation. We also posted the article on our Web site with a note from
our editor acknowledging the tragic news.
Our decision to allow distribution of the issue was not taken lightly.
We made the call to go forward because of the importance of the story–
an interview with the only woman ever elected to lead a Muslim nation,
on the eve of an election that could dramatically affect the war on
terror and worldwide nuclear proliferation. We hoped that our
interview would help readers learn more about this brave and
We hope we¹ve addressed your concerns. We appreciate you taking the
time to write and share your comments.
READER COMMENTS | 401 Comments
Advertisers Wake Up
By hepcat2 [at] comcast [dot] net on 1/8/2008 5:58:PM
Greed will only get you so far Parade Magazine. I hope the few of you
advertisers who put your diet pill ads and your novelty kitty plate
ads in this rag will finally figure out how little the educated public
actually thinks of this thing called Prade. Yuck.
Incompetent, Insulting, and Indifferent. What trash!
By seamjadali [at] aol [dot] com on 1/8/2008 4:51:PM
I am utterly appalled by the complete lack of responsibility you have
showed, first in making no reference to her death anyware in your
magazine, second in not putting up any kind of apology to your readers
on the website (although you did put up an explanation, and thirdly in
the complete lack of remorse in the letter you posted in this comment
section. I would like to see an apology on the front page of next
week’s edition before I throw it in the trash, but frankly given your
obvious indifference to the outrage of your readers (over 19 pages of
comments at last count!) and the three week lag time that you
apparently work with, I highly doubt I will see it. Further, if you
function on a three week publication schedule you have no business
commenting on any political story, let alone one about the extremely
volatile situation in P akistan. (The fact that one has to put an
extra space in the name of the country is further evidence, were it
required, of your complete incompetence, since even your filter cannot
differentiate between an ethnic slur which is only four letters long,
and the name of a country which is four letters longer. It is
absolutely insulting to the country in question.)
Stick to what you do best–light, mindless journalism
By dlkbc [at] hotmail [dot] com on 1/8/2008 2:57:PM
I am a Canadian who buys the Sunday Seattle Times every week and
enjoyed Parade magazine. When I grabbed it this Sunday and saw the
Parade magazine, I thought I had bought an obviously old paper and
cursed my newstand for keeping it on hand. I think of Parade as light
journalism–celebrity gossip/interviews, recipes, diet/health,
puzzles, which I think you do reasonably well. So when I see a serious
political article that is so woefully outdated (notwithstanding
holiday publishing challenges), I think that you should stick to what
you do best–which is not serious political journalism. I do not take
issue with the author’s article itself. I’m looking forward to your
first issue on your newly elected president–maybe to appear in 2010?