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US indicts five suspects for smuggling US goods to Pakistan’s nuclear program

Pakistan's missiles, including The Ghauri–I, on display at the IDEAS exhibition in 2008. (SyedNaqvi90/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A federal court has indicted five men suspected of operating an international network of front companies to purchase goods in the United States for Pakistan’s nuclear and other weapons programs in violation of two legislative acts designed to protect U.S. national security, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release.

The indictment, unsealed on January 15, says the “defendants smuggled U.S.-origin goods to entities that have been designated for years as threats to U.S. national security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programs,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

Accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Export Control Reform Act are: Muhammad Kamran Wali (Kamran), 41, of Pakistan; Muhammad Ahsan Wali (Ahsan), 48, and Haji Wali Muhammad Sheikh (Haji), 82, both of Canada; Ashraf Khan Muhammad (Khan) of Hong Kong; and Ahmed Waheed (Waheed), 52, of Britain.

All are associated with the front company Business World in Pakistan and the group allegedly procured “38 separate exports” from 29 U.S.-based companies through an international web of firms that concealed the true destination of the goods in Pakistan, according to the indictment.

However, a multiagency law enforcement investigation established that the goods went to two Pakistani organizations whose activities “are found to be contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests: the Advanced Engineering Research Organization (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).”

AERO was added to the Commerce Department’s entity list in 2014 after the U.S. government found that it had “used intermediaries and front companies to procure items for use in Pakistan’s cruise missile and strategic UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] programs.”

Arrest warrants for the five suspects are pending and none of them have been apprehended.