Retired Pakistani Brigadier In German Custody Is Reportedly Linked To BCCI
BONN, Germany (AP) _ A retired Pakistani military officer suspected of playing a major role in his country’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons has been arrested in Germany, officials said Tuesday.
The retired brigadier, identified as Inam ul-Haq, has been linked to a case involving the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which allegedly helped bankroll several countries’ attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Doug Tillet said the United States has begun efforts to extradite Inam.
He is accused of directing a Canadian businessman convicted in a scheme to purchase high-strength steel that needed an export license. Documents Canadian police found in the businessman’s house showed that the steel purchase was to be financed by an arm of BCCI, Tillet said.
Inam, who told German authorities he was a salesman, has been held in custody in Frankfurt since his arrest July 11 at Frankfurt International Airport, said Hans-Hermann Eckert of the Hesse state prosecutor’s office.
The United States seeks Inam’s extradition on charges he falsified export applications so ″metals for nuclear use″ could be transported from the United States, Eckert said. It was not clear whether any materials reached Pakistan.
A statement released by the German Border Patrol office in Frankfurt, which made the arrest, said the suspect, who it did not name, sought to export the metals as well as ″fissionable materials″ from the United States.
Inam, 62, reportedly worked in Pakistan’s military engineering service. Western intelligence agencies have identified him as a buyer for Pakistan’s atomic energy commission.
In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, a government spokesman denied Inam was working for the government. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
At the time Inam purportedly was active in the program, Pakistan was ruled by the military under Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. Zia and Inam are unrelated.
Asked about reports linking Inam to BCCI, his attorney, Hans-Wolfgang Euler, said: ″That’s the first time I heard something like that about my client.″
Inam was seized on an international arrest warrant after a flight from Karachi, Pakristan, Eckert said.
Eckert said officials were awaiting a formal extradition request from the United States.
The British newspaper, The Guardian, reported Tuesday that police in Canada had confirmed a report in the newspaper last month that BCCI branches had been instrumental in bankrolling Inam’s and others’ efforts ″to buy atom-bomb technology.″
However, Sgt. Pierre Belanger of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa said the Mounties could not confirm the Guardian’s story. He did say, however, that Inam was investigated in 1987 and 1988 in connection with a U.S. prosecution, but the matter was closed in 1990.
The Wall Street Journal said Monday that U.S. investigators hope Inam’s arrest will shed light on possible links between BCCI and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
German officials refused to discuss the alleged links.
Pakistan’s nuclear program has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan insists its nuclear program is peaceful, largely to generate nuclear power for industrial growth.
But intelligence agencies contend Pakistan crossed the nuclear threshhold in 1990 and has the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
In other developments related to BCCI:
- Alan Garcia, the former president of Peru said Monday he had no direct involvement in depositing millions of dollars in government funds with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. U.S. officials have accused his top former Central Bank officials of accepting $3 million in bribes from BCCI to desposit reserves there.
-Luxembourg, where BCCI was based, has asked Abu Dhabi to put up money to help cover losses by small depositors whose funds were frozen when BCCI was closed last month. Abu Dhabi, the biggest shareholder in BCCI, has developed a similar plan to protect depositors in Britain.
-The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported that two former BCCI officers serving U.S. prison sentences for money laundering are cooperating with federal investigators. One of them, Amjad Awan, was once secretly taped saying Clark Clifford tried to sabotage a Senate investigation of BCCI. Clifford, a former U.S. defense secretary, is chairman of BCCI-affiliated First American Bankshares Inc. of Washington. Clifford has denied any wrongdoing.