Jeffrey LewisDid We Flip Tahir, Too?

Hey, you remember Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir?

The guy President Bush called the Khan network’s chief financial officer and money launderer?

The guy described as a creepy little puke with a man-crush on AQ Khan, tooling around Dubai in a luxury car purchased with the proceeds from his booming business in nuclear weapons technologies?

The guy who, according to Mark Hibbs, “has not been charged with any crimes by Malaysia and is said to be living in Malaysia.”

I missed this, but in February 2005, Bill Powell in Time reported that the Libyans think Tahir flipped on Khan:

A Libyan source told TIME that the Libyan government believes that the mole may have been Tahir, Khan’s trusted aide. ”[The U.S.] made a compromise with him,” the source says. “He will be safe. They won’t touch him, but he had to cooperate.” The source has told TIME that when the CIA finally confronted Tripoli in late 2003 about its nuclear ambitions, the officers played a tape of a 1997 Casablanca meeting that was attended by only Khan, Tahir and two representatives of the Libyan government. The source believes that Tahir was wearing a concealed microphone during that meeting.

Given the rumors that the US also flipped Urs Tinner, the degree of penetration in the network during the mid-1990s is really starting to make me wonder why it took so damn long to shut down the network.


  1. johnwbragg (History)

    Someone else was running Tahir before we flipped him? It was ISI’s/the Mossad’s/Saudi’s/the Trilateral Commission’s wire, and Tahir kept copies for use in case he ever needed it?

  2. Muskrat

    It’s not unheard of for handlers to fall under the spell of informants. cf. Wikipedia on Whitey Bulger, Boston Mobster:

    “What is undisputed, however, is that Bulger used his charm and charisma in order to turn his status with the FBI to his own advantage. Special Agent Connolly, who was assigned to monitor him, soon grew to revere Bulger, and viewed him like an older brother. According to Federal prosecutors, Connolly became, for all intents and purposes, a member of Bulger’s organization, supplying him with information about investigations and even funneling bribes to at least one other agent.”

    There’s always somebody arguing for one more meeting, one more data point, one more tape. The whole post-9/11 kerfluffle was over how intel always valued info over action…..

  3. Sentinel

    Collection over action