Jeffrey LewisHome Sweet Home with AQ Khan 2/2

Yesterday, the two us — Jeffrey Lewis and Jende Huang — discussed AQ Khan’s residence in the upscale E-7 neighborhood of Islamabad, where he lived for many years including the period he was under house arrest.  Today, we turn our attention to his lake-side villa.

Khan’s lake-side villa played a central role in the unflattering profile of Khan by William Langewiesche that appeared in The Atlantic (“Wrath of Khan”) and Atomic Bazaar. Langewiesche argued that Khan built the lake house “in blatant disregard of the law” to demonstrate his power and status.  Khan disputed the account, calling it total rubbish.

Ok, but where is it?

Langewiesche’s piece in the The Atlantic says that the lake house was “about a mile from the navy’s sailing club, clearly in sight on the lake’s far shore” in an area called Bani Gala. If you type in “AQ Khan” into Google Earth’s search function, one of the result is “Dr AQ Khan House.

Close, but not quite right.

The home sits at the intersection of Palm and, well, “AQ Khan Road.” That would seem to be a good candidate for Khan’s lake-side villa. This photo of houses along the water, taken by Colin Cookman on 23 April 2009 and titled “The House that Nuclear Proliferation Built,” will be awfully helpful.

The large house, identified in Google Earth, probably does not belong to Khan.  It belongs to his next-door neighbor. There are a few pieces of evidence.

First, we have this 1995 photo provided by Simon Henderson (posted to Twitter by @micah_morrison) that shows Khan with his wife on what appears to be a red brick patio that sits along the lake.

The photograph posted by Colin Cookman shows the red brick patio (with gazebo) belongs to the more modest house just to the right of the large one identified as Khan’s in Google Earth. The red brick patio is also visible in satellite images.

Notice, too, the houses under construction to Khan’s left. The two closest are excellent matches for the neighbors next to the house with the lake-side brick patio.

Langewiesche provides a second clue, noting that “The most noticeable place is next door to Khan’s. It is under construction, and showy in the style of an international hotel. Khan’s house by comparison seems modest now … Khan’s garden, which slopes to the shore and was once his pride, is growing wild. He has a little speedboat beside a private dock, but it is open to the rain and is slowly swamping, settling nose-down into the water. Langewiesche published his account in November 2005, having “recently” traveled to Pakistan.

This 2004 image shows that the house marked “Dr. AQ Khan House” was under construction in 2004 – it is clearly Khan’s “showy” neighbor.

And, although this isn’t the greatest satellite photo, one can clearly see Khan’s speedboat, sitting at the dock in this 2005 image.  The neighboring house is still under construction and you could persuade me that Khan’s garden looks a bit overgrown.

Given the red brick patio, the boat dock and the construction timeline of the neighboring houses, AQ Khan’s lake-side villa is the one located at: 33°42’31.20″N,  73° 8’37.68″E

One question.  Starting in March 2009, in one satellite image after another, there are a bunch of cars parked in the driveway and, on many occasions, in the field across the street from Khan’s house. What are those doing there?

A further, small detail catches out notice.  In 1999, Celia Dugger wrote in the New York Times that Khan retained an “imposing brick house in Bani Gala, with a fountain on the front lawn, topped by a playful stone fish.”  The outlines of the fountain is visible in the satellite images. Whereas Langewiesche sees “a weekend house that drained … sewage into the water of the poor” as a metaphor for Kahn’s power and arrogance, the fountain reveals something less sinister and vaguely ridiculous– the petty vanity of the nouveau riche as depicted in Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle :

Jeffrey Lewis is the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk.com. Follow him on Twitter: @armscontrolwonk

Jende Huang is a candidate for a Masters in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Monterey Institute. Follow him on Twitter: @jendehuang

Comments

  1. Jeffrey (History)

    Simon Henderson sends along another note.

    Jeffrey,

    You pinpoint the right house. The answer to your “One question…What are all those cars doing there?” is I don’t know but perhaps you should ask the man who is now renting the place from Khan.

    Your credit to Micah Morrison is mis-directed. Yes, the photo of Khan and his wife by the lake is mine – indeed, I have others of Khan at Bannigala (his spelling).

    An additional thought: I wish your co-author Jende Huang “good luck” for the Masters in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies but I may suggest that any paper for academic submission should be less snide

    Simon Henderson

  2. Bahram Khodadoost (History)

    I must be missing something obvious, but what is the significance of pinpointing his houses? This exercise makes me slightly nervous, given that US and its allies are not beneath engaging in terrorism, as shown by the murderous explosions on the streets of Tehran and drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      The significance is that it was an interesting exercise for a student who is writing a paper on the murder of Kim Sa Nae and wanted to sort out the geography, since she was killed nearby.

    • Tobias Piechowiak (History)

      As you can see the exact positions are easily obtainable from Google maps… if you want him harm and have the means there are no obstacles…my guess is that he is not perceived worth any efforts.

      Obviously that’s also his own impression otherwise he would clearly go underground or he does not care about it…

      Probably, he is quite happy not being forced to such a drastic step since it would interfere with his well documented and almost childish longing for approval and respect…

  3. shaheen (History)

    I thought I would help with the houses location but you guys got it all right.

    However, don’t be surprised if some in the Pakistani strategic circles start saying “The White House is obviously sending a message through ACW: we have Pakistan in our cross-hairs”. In fact, I was seriously told in Islamabad that Dr. K. moves from one house to another to avoid US drones.

    (Oh, and about Jacques Tati’s movies: I can also help with pinpointing the houses where he shots his movies – one was actually shot in an old family property.)

    • Jeffrey (History)

      REALLY? I love Jacques Tati. I even have this coat (or its nearest modern equivalent.) You’ll notice it from time-to-time on Facebook, although I haven’t the courage to wear the hat, too.

      And, as if you to prove your point about the conspiracy-mad people, check out the proceeding comment. GET A FUCKING LIFE, PEOPLE.

  4. Bahram Khodadoost (History)

    I am not a “conspiracy-mad” person, Jefferey, and said nothing about a conspiracy. I was simply curious what I was missing about the significance of this two-part essay. Your answer seems to be that it’s an exercise for its own sake, which I translate as it having no academic, intellectual, or practical value; which is fine: we all have our guilty pleasures.

    However, it would have been nicer to not publicly pinpoint where Mr. Khan and his family live. It’s nice to be nice to others.

    And I very much have life, thank you very much!

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Perhaps I was too harsh.

      But the phrase “…engaging in terrorism, as shown by the murderous explosions on the streets of Tehran and drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere” did not seem like an invitation to a friendly discussion.

      AQ Khan, as I noted, put his address on his CV and spent his house arrest there, a location to known to many reporters and visitors. The sort of people who might wish him harm already know where he lives.

      For the rest of us, it is interesting. I did not say the exercise had “no academic, intellectual, or practical value.” I said “it was an interesting exercise for a student who is writing a paper on the murder of Kim Sa Nae and wanted to sort out the geography, since she was killed nearby.”

      Where she might have been killed is a subject of dispute among the various accounts.

    • YankeeCynic (History)

      A consistent theme that this blog has explored is how open source information can be used in counterproliferation activities. From that perspective this exercise more than demonstrates how well these techniques can work.

      Ad for the poor, poor Dr. Khan, if the man doesn’t want people trying to figure out how and where he lives, perhaps he should have refrained from transferring nuclear technology to rogue states. I find it very bloody hard to shed a tear for the man’s privacy.

      Further, I highly doubt there’s an MQ-9 squadron sitting around, wringing their hands, all because they’re waiting for an academic blog to pass them the final target information. That’s not to belittle the fantastic work done in these articles in any way, of course.

  5. Jeffrey (History)

    From Simon Henderson:

    Jeffrey,

    You are such a tease. Most of your readers will, of course, be saying: “Who the hell is Kim Sa-Nae?” BTW how did you know she was murdered, implying premeditation? The story I heard was that her husband was the more likely target.

    For a better understanding of the larger story, rather than your apparent obsession with real estate, read:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pakistans-nuclear-bomb-maker-says-north-korea-paid-bribes-for-know-how/2010/11/12/gIQAZ1kH1H_story.html

    BTW the E-7 neighborhood might be “upscale” today but when Khan was having his house built in the late 1970s it was far from fashionable. There were only a few isolated houses there and it certainly wasn’t verdant. I used to live in F-7/3 and always thought it looked like the surface of the moon. Yes, I know, you want to know my house number. I think it was 168.

    Simon Henderson

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I should have said “killed” given that Jon Byong Ho said he was sure General Kang was the intended target.

    • jende (History)

      Mr. Henderson, for those of us interested in Islamabad real estate, any chance you happen to hear of the house number of Kim Sa Nae and her husband over in F7/1?

    • kme (History)

      I think if you intend to kill one person but mistakenly kill another in the process, there are certainly many jurisdictions where a murder charge would apply.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Yes, but it would have been better if I said she had been killed.

  6. Bahram Khodadoost (History)

    Jeffery, By mentioning terrorism, I did not mean to implicate you in it. I meant that the information might be misused by others, which suggests that the “pros” of posting such information should be weighed against the considerable “cons,” which led me to wonder what the “pros” were. Your other points are well taken.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Then I do regret reacting quite as strongly as I did. Apologies.

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