Rabu, 9 Mac 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World

US charges Pakistani with illegal nuclear exports

Posted: 09 Mar 2011 07:44 PM PST

WASHINGTON, March 10 — A Pakistani national has been arrested and charged with a scheme to illegally export nuclear-related materials to his home country from the United States, the US Justice Department said yesterday.

Nadeem Akhtar, 45, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, a Washington suburb, was indicted for conspiring with others to illegally export restricted goods and technology to a Pakistani nuclear power plant and a Pakistani research commission.

With an unidentified co-defendant, the alleged scheme began late in 2005 and lasted until March of last year, officials said. Most of the illegal exports took place between 2005 and 2008.

"This arrest is the product of a vigorous, cooperative joint-agency investigation focused on denying and disrupting the illegal export of controlled nuclear technology destined for Pakistan," said Eric Hirschhorn, the undersecretary of commerce for industry and security.

Washington has long been concerned with Pakistan's nuclear program, which included the development of atomic weapons and added to regional tensions with its longtime rival, India.

The indictment alleged that Akhtar worked on behalf of the co-defendant who had business relationships with Pakistan government entities and who obtained the items from the United States and other nations.

The indictment alleges that Akhtar and his co-defendant transferred funds from Pakistan and Dubai to bank accounts in the United States.

Akhtar, who owns a company called Computer Communication USA, was specifically accused of illegally exporting radiation detection devices, resins for coolant water purification, calibration and switching equipment, and surface refinishing abrasives.

All of those items require an export license because they can be used in activities related to nuclear reactors and the processing and production of nuclear material, the Justice Department said.

The indictment alleged that Akhtar attempted to conceal the ultimate end use of the items and their true value by putting misleading or incomplete information on documents such as invoices and purchase orders.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit export violations and defraud the United States, up to 20 years in prison for unlawful export of goods, and up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Akhtar had an initial appearance in federal court yesterday in Baltimore and was ordered detained pending another hearing today. — Reuters

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US arrests man in Martin Luther King day bomb plot

Posted: 09 Mar 2011 06:12 PM PST

WASHINGTON, March 10 — A Washington state man was arrested and charged with attempting to place a bomb along the parade route of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration in Spokane, the US Justice Department said yesterday.

"I can say that it was a viable device, it was planted with the aim of injuring or killing people and we were fortunate that it did not go off and that people were in fact not killed. We were just lucky in that regard," Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference on an unrelated matter.

Kevin William Harpham, 36, was charged with two counts of attempting to put a bomb along the planned parade route on Jan. 17, according to documents filed in federal court.

Authorities said the device, if it had gone off, could have caused multiple deaths.

A federal law enforcement official said authorities were investigating whether the suspect, who lived in Colville, Washington, had ties to white supremacists.

Officials from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights group, said Harpham had been a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance in late 2004 and that he apparently was in the US military from 1996 to 1997.

The parade, on the national holiday honoring the slain African-American civil rights leader and attended by about 1,500 people, was quickly rerouted while the city's bomb disposal unit was summoned and safely "neutralized the device," the FBI said at the time.

An unattended backpack, with wires visible, was discovered on a downtown bench by three city workers who notified police about 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, the FBI said. The device in the backpack was largely concealed by two T-shirts packed inside.

"I think the FBI has done really great work in cracking that case along with their state and local counterparts," Holder said in confirming the arrest.

Chemical analysis of the homemade bomb remains "ongoing," FBI supervisory resident agent Frank Harrill told Reuters, declining to confirm reports that the bomb contained a white powder anticoagulant chemical similar to rat poison.

One count charges the suspect with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, an improvised explosive device, along the planned parade route. That charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The other count charges Harpham with illegally possessing an explosive device, which carries up to 10 years in prison. — Reuters

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