AQ Khan walks free

posted at 11:14 am on February 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

To no one’s great surprise, Abdul Qadeer Khan walked free yesterday.  A Pakistani court ordered his release from five years of house arrest, signaling the final collapse of the effort to bring the worst nuclear proliferation ring in history to justice.  However, Khan himself may have been more of a patsy than a villain:

Early yesterday, the Pakistani scientist at the center of one of history’s worst nuclear scandals walked out of his Islamabad villa to declare his vindication after five years of house arrest. “The judgment, by the grace of God, is good,” a smiling Abdul Qadeer Khan told a throng of reporters and TV crews.

Moments earlier, a Pakistani court had ordered the release of the metallurgist who had famously admitted selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Through years of legal limbo, Khan, 72, had never been charged, and now he never will be. “The so-called A.Q. Khan affair is a closed chapter,” a Pakistani government spokesman said.

In Washington, the news sparked criticism but little surprise. It was a jarring denouement to what had been one of the most celebrated successes against nuclear weapons trafficking in decades — a victory that has been increasingly tarnished by government failures in the aftermath of the ring’s breakup.

Nearly five years after Khan’s smuggling operation came to light, the international effort to prosecute its leaders is largely in shambles, yielding convictions of only a few minor participants and no significant prison time for any of them.

Khan may be the face of the network, but the real force behind it was the government of Pakistan.  They wanted to proliferate their technology to fellow Islamists in the 1980s and 1990s, and Khan helped them do it.  Later, after 9/11, Islamabad wanted to pretend that it had nothing to do with Khan’s efforts and made him the fall guy for their efforts.

That doesn’t relieve Khan of his responsibility in proliferation, of course, but it might explain why a Pakistani court would free their national hero.  Unfortunately, it removes what little pressure remained for Khan to cooperate with outside investigators.  His silence over the years got rewarded by Pakistan, which also kept him away from US and UN investigators, and he’s not about to name names now that he’s been freed.

For five years, international agencies have tried to hold proliferators accountable for their actions in providing nuclear designs and materials to lunatics and tyrants.  That effort failed long before Khan got his freedom, and it points out the folly of treating Khan and his conspirators like criminals instead of enemies — especially when they enjoy government sponsorship.  Perhaps this will be a lesson in dealing with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other government-sponsored terrorist networks.


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Comments

Oh, I’m sure he totes promised to refrain from selling stuff to Iran on his way home.

Maybe President HopenChange can get advice on how to f*ck up this royally.

mjk on February 7, 2009 at 11:17 AM

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNN!

No way to arrange Khan’s suicide? I understand that he has been depressed lately.

Bishop on February 7, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Time for a predator missile “launch error”. Peshawar is close enough to the tribal areas to provide deniability. Too bad we don’t have a CIC with cajones!

BadDogMN on February 7, 2009 at 11:19 AM

I understand that war, like politics, makes for strange bedfellows, but that doesn’t make our cozy relationship with Pakistan any less disgusting.

Bugler on February 7, 2009 at 11:20 AM

I get that “crew of the Titanic” feeling with Obama. He’ll smile and lie and do nothing. He promised change, not improvement.

Mojave Mark on February 7, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Where is a good ‘double tapper’ when you need one ?

DoctorDentons on February 7, 2009 at 11:27 AM

I get that “crew of the Titanic” feeling with Obama. He’ll smile and lie and do nothing. He promised change, not improvement.

Mojave Mark on February 7, 2009 at 11:27 AM

He’ll rearrange the deck chairs.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Electing Obama is one of the worst mistakes this country has ever made.

WisCon on February 7, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Moments earlier, a Pakistani court had ordered the release of the metallurgist who had famously admitted selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Who will benefit from his expertise, now?
Hugo Chavez? Fidel Castro? Osama Bin Laden?
All of the above?

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Let me guess. This thread will get far fewer comments than the ubiquitous Sarah Palin threads.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Yes we KHAN !!

redrock on February 7, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Dear Dr. Dentons (BTW cute name)

One shot, One Kill ring a bell?

Same general idea though.

InTheBellyoftheBeast on February 7, 2009 at 11:42 AM

extrodinary rendition?

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on February 7, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Now that he’s free to move about, maybe he’ll unwittingly walk in front of a bus or fall into a manhole.

Accidents happen.

tru2tx on February 7, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Who wants to haggle! I have a wonderful rug woven in the design of a hydrogen bomb spec. Wonderful work, look at the tiny knots tied by Christian pakistani children we keep as slaves!

Mr. Joe on February 7, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Quick – assassinate him.

Jaibones on February 7, 2009 at 11:51 AM

YAY!

artist on February 7, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Pakistan knows they can push the envelope in realtime now. Now that Putin has been able to close down the other supply route into Afghanistan, I suppose the Pakistan army will join forces with the Taliban to close the one in the Northwest Province. Barry will then have a perfect excuse to declare defeat and withdraw. Things are gonna move fast in foreign policy from here on out, other than Iranian nukes. Barry is going to be back on his heels constantly.

a capella on February 7, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Sometimes assassination is necessary.

Buford on February 7, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Electing Obama is one of the worst mistakes this country has ever made.

WisCon on February 7, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Yup. Don’t you ever get sick of being right, though? I do. It’s wearying.

Don’t worry – along with having less intelligence than anyone in Washington thinks, and no character or ethics, he has no jaw and no stamina. He’s actually a remarkably lame person, all in all.

Have you seen a picture of him after three weeks in office? He looks like like a drunk at closing time, but without the smile. His hair will be white in a year; I don’t know if this putz will make it to the end of his term. He’s less than half the man Bush is, even now.

Jaibones on February 7, 2009 at 11:55 AM

The CIA should make this islamic terrorist assume room temperature.

They won’t unfortunately.

wildcat84 on February 7, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Perhaps this will be a lesson on dealing with Hamas, Hezbolla, and other government-sponsored terrorist networks. Muslims and Islam.

FIFY ED.

[email protected] on February 7, 2009 at 11:57 AM

More from the link above:

Worst of all, the recent discovery of nuclear weapons blueprints on computers found in Switzerland and Dubai has prompted questions about whether the damage inflicted by the network was truly contained — or even understood. It is possible, U.S. officials concede, that Khan and his allies shared nuclear secrets with still-unknown countries and, perhaps, terrorist groups, as well.

Well, if he hasn’t already, he will.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:58 AM

He’ll rearrange the deck chairs.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:31 AM

At the same time the Dems are in the hold of the ship with cutting torches making holes….big ones!

milwife88 on February 7, 2009 at 11:59 AM

thank you Obama for sending a clear message to the world with your USS Cole decision

stormin1961 on February 7, 2009 at 11:59 AM

[email protected] on February 7, 2009 at 11:57 AM

+1

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Wonder how soon he will be on a plane to Iran to do a bit of advising.

albill on February 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Wonder how soon he will be on a plane to Iran to do a bit of advising.

albill on February 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM

He didn’t need to be. He already gave Kim Jong Mentally Ill his nuke, and I’m sure has already given Iran all he can.

wildcat84 on February 7, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Khan may be the face of the network, but the real force behind it was the government of Pakistan. They wanted to proliferate their technology to fellow Islamists in the 1980s and 1990s, and Khan helped them do it.

Perhaps some individuals in Paki govt. wanted that. But from my understanding the govt. had more pressing matters and acted accordingly. Do you have a source for that assertion Ed?

Free Constitution on February 7, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Perhaps this will be a lesson in dealing with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other government-sponsored terrorist networks.

It could be a lesson, if our current leadership was interested. Unfortunately we’re moving more toward a “criminal” model of fighting terrorism every day.

cs89 on February 7, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Don’t count Al-Qaeda out in the race to see who nukes us first. Don’t forget that an American Hiroshima has long been their dream. In 2003 they sought and received a nuclear fatwa from Saudi clerics giving them Islamic approval to kill 10 million Americans.

Just because they haven’t done it yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t in the works. Remember how they waited 8 years to return and finish off the World Trade Center after their first attempt was thwarted.

Patience is a virtue in Islam.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Am I the only one who thinks this guy is 10X more dangerous than Bin Laden?

el75 on February 7, 2009 at 12:41 PM

I wonder why right after the mesiahs coronation
all of the sudden EVERY cockroach
Tin pot dictator
Terrorists
Terrorists supporters

Are all NOW coming out of the woodwork?

Its pretty simple..

EVERY
Islamic Terrorist
Islamic cleric
Terrorist supporter
Drug dealer
Rapist
Child molester
pervert
Sociopath
Psychopath
communist
and nut job

Knows that the liberals , democrats and
pelozi, reid, shummer, todd, obama, kennedy , kerry, murtha and the rest of these creeps

Wouldnt Defend their own families let alone our nation

So they are all comming out now ready to resume their slaughter..

You liberals all voted for these idiots..

When your families are being butchered
your wifes and children being raped
your homes burnt to the ground..

When you cry out for help

If i SEE an obama sticker anyplace

I will laugh and walk right on by..
as you suffer

hey
Hope n change..

you MoRONS

jcila on February 7, 2009 at 12:52 PM

“Where are you going next, Khan?”
“To run for public office in Minnesota.”

whitetop on February 7, 2009 at 12:54 PM

It’s time for reponsible agencies to kidnap A.Q. Khan, extract as much information as possible from him, and then kill him.

RD on February 7, 2009 at 1:05 PM

I wonder how soon he’ll be invited to the White House for cocktails?

becki51758 on February 7, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Am I the only one who thinks this guy is 10X more dangerous than Bin Laden?

el75 on February 7, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Bin Laden has the vision.
A.Q. Khan has the means to fulfill that vision.
Now that he’s free to resume selling his expertise, we are all infinitely less safe.

Suggested reading:
The Day of Islam and The Dunces of Doomsday
both by Paul L. Williams

Petrifying reading.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Perhaps this will be a lesson in dealing with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other government-sponsored terrorist networks.

Wishful thinking, especially with Obama in the hot seat.

Ares on February 7, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Still, if it comes down to it who would object to turning Islamabad or Tehran into a glass parking lot?

Ares on February 7, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Still, if it comes down to it who would object to turning Islamabad or Tehran into a glass parking lot?

Ares on February 7, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Russia.

Blacksheep on February 7, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Pakistan knew it couldn’t get away with such an act with Bush in the Oval Office, but now that Obama is the Appeaser in Chief, the standard has been set for the rest of the world.

Log on February 7, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Guy needs to take a dirt nap. He shares the jihadist world view and will undoubtedly get back into the nuclear proliferation business.

I suggest anyone with an interest read The Nuclear Jihadist.

A timely book, well research and a good read.

moxie_neanderthal on February 7, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Makes me think of Gerald Bull.

exception on February 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM

REND I TION

profitsbeard on February 7, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Now Khan faces the long reach of the Mossad. I suggest he restrict his movements to radical Muslim strongholds, preferably small towns where it’s hard to move anonymously.

njcommuter on February 7, 2009 at 4:46 PM

This is a kick in the face to everyone who is a friend or family member of a U.S.S. Cole victim, a 911 victim or has had anyone wounded or killed in Afghanistan or Iraq!

My suggestion; Close Gitmo the day AFTER we execute every animal held there….END OF PROBLEM!

nelsonknows on February 7, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Let me guess. This thread will get far fewer comments than the ubiquitous Sarah Palin threads.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Just as I predicted.

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 5:55 PM

The day Reagan took office, the American hostages held by the mullahs of Iran were released.

Two weeks after Obama takes office, one of the worst contributors to arming a terrorist-loving state and its fellow travelers walks free.

Coincidence?

JDPerren on February 7, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Disturb the Universe on February 7, 2009 at 5:55 PM

Because there´s not much to say or discuss. Not many options to ponder.

el gordo on February 8, 2009 at 8:51 AM

el gordo on February 8, 2009 at 8:51 AM

What options are there to ponder in the ubiquitous Sarah Palin threads? All we do is bicker about her strengths and weaknesses as a conservative standard bearer, etc.

Disturb the Universe on February 8, 2009 at 1:47 PM