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Ummah Tamir-e-Nau
(Reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah)


Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, former Director General of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), formed the UmmahTamir-e-Nau (UTN) in March 2000 after his resignation from the PAEC in 1999. Bashiruddin Mahmood was arrested on October 23, 2001, from Islamabad along with his associate Abdul Majeed (arrested in Lahore) for their alleged links to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network.

Leadership, Structure and Overground Activities

Mahmood is the Chairman of UTN, which is registered as a non-governmental Afghan relief agency. Chaudhary Abdul Majeed, a former senior scientist at the PAEC, who also resigned in 1999, is a prominent member of the UTN. The UTN has seven Directors, Arshad Ali Chaudhary, a retired air force commander and Vice President of the foundation; Humayun Niaz, a former naval officer and businessman with ties to the erstwhile Nawaz Sharif government and the foundation’s Finance Director; retired Brig. Mohammed Hanif, a career army engineer; Mirza Baig, an industrialist with the biggest foundry in Pakistan; and Sheikh Mohammed Tufail, the owner of one of Pakistan’s leading engineering companies.

Ummah Tamir-e-Nau calls itself "an organisation engaged in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities". UTN refers to the greater Islamic community, transcending national boundaries. The declared objective of the UTN was to attract foreign investment, especially from Muslim countries, to Afghanistan for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged country. It was involved in voluntary work including rebuilding schools, hospitals, and providing medical supplies, etc. Mahmood had been working recently on certain projects in Afghanistan including land development and education reforms. Among the humanitarian projects were the provision of mobile health units and primary school course books.

UTN has posted fliers in some Islamabad hospitals seeking volunteer doctors and paramedics for humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Bashiruddin Mahmood’s son’s phone number is reportedly given as a contact number.

Mahmood is reported to have travelled frequently to Afghanistan for ‘land development research’. As poppy is no more being cultivated in Afghanistan, his efforts were reportedly directed towards substitute crops.

Mirza Baig also had extensive ties with the erstwhile Taliban regime and several contracts for building schools, hospitals, government buildings and a flourmill in Kandahar, the erstwhile Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.

UTN was one of the few non- governmental groups permitted to function freely in Afghanistan and the Taliban gave Mahmood permission to conclude business agreements on their behalf. It also concentrated on commercial ties with Afghanistan with varied business interests, including mining ventures.

According to Asim Mahmood, son of Bashiruddin, Mahmood and Majeed donated their 1 million rupee ($14,000) retirement money from the PAEC to the UTN, and also used their prestige to pull in others to help Afghanistan. All seven of UTN’s directors were detained on October 23, 2001.

Subversive Activities & Linkages

The Ummah is affiliated with the now-proscribed Al Rashid Trust, which, in turn has links with the Al Qaeda network as also the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). UTN also established links with the Al-Akhtar Trust. The Ummah, registered as a non-government organisation, is reported to have been floated at the behest of Osama bin Laden for ‘development projects’ in Afghanistan, and US and British intelligence agencies have confirmed that the UTN was directly linked to the Al Qaeda network. These Agencies have claimed that Mahmood's team was trying to develop nuclear technology for Laden. The UTN was said to be developing a nuclear program by smuggling nuclear materials from Russia and Central Asian States. U.S. intelligence agencies have suspected that Mahmood had provided nuclear information and assistance to the Taliban or bin Laden.

According to Pakistani intelligence officials, when UTN officials travelled to Afghanistan, their visas were sponsored by the Taliban’s erstwhile Ministry for Mines and Industries, headed by Ahmed Jan. Jan has a long association with bin Laden — a relationship that dates to 1996 when the Taliban captured the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Laden had already begun to set up his terrorist training camps and, intelligence sources say, Jan negotiated an extension of Laden’s stay in Afghanistan — and his allegiance to the Taliban regime.

Reports quoting Pakistani investigators indicated on November 11 that Mahmood and Majeed had confessed about meeting Osama bin Laden at least twice this year. These meetings occurred when they were reportedly at Kandahar in connection with the construction of a flourmill.

Mahmood is also reported to have met Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammed Omar several times. Majeed has been associated with Pakistan’s programme to exploit natural resources of uranium and plutonium.

One of the subjects on which the arrested scientists have been questioned is a complex of buildings outside Kandahar, which UTN helped to build. It has been described as a flourmill. The buildings were the targets of recent bombing raids but it is unclear what the buildings contained or whether any compromising installations might have been removed.


Although Pakistani media reports have indicated that both Mahmood and Majeed were handed over to a joint team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the government has denied these reports. Another former PAEC scientist Mirza Yousaf was also arrested for his alleged involvement with bin Laden. Mahmood was released on October 26 after being "cleared" by security agencies, but was arrested again after his release.

Mahmood was a project director when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in May 1998 and won the prestigious Sitar-e-Imtiaz civil award for his work.

Dr. Bashiruddin Mahmood had resigned from the PAEC in protest following reports in 1999, that Pakistan would sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Such an action, he said, would wreck Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme. In an interview with The Financial Times in 2000, he expressed his opposition to the CTBT on the grounds that Pakistan needed to carry out test explosions to develop peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Mahmood had recently called for a cease-fire in the American-led attacks in Afghanistan.

Mahmood is described as an "extremely religious man," and is considered by authorities to be a vehement supporter of the Taliban. He is reported to have termed Pakistan's nuclear capability as "the property of the whole Ummah."

Mahmood is considered to be a founding father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, having headed, until 1999, the country’s chief weapons-grade plutonium producer, the Khushab Nuclear Plant. Majeed was the technical director of the New Labs — Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons design facility. The Khushab Plant is the country’s chief producer of weapons-grade plutonium used in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which contains, according to U.S. intelligence officials estimates, 80 weapons.

The heavy-water moderated Khushab reactor which was designed and built with Chinese assistance, first went critical in early 1998. The reactor is rated at 40-50 MWth (megawatt thermal) but produces no electrical power. Mahmood himself explained in an article he co-authored in 1999 with another nuclear scientist, Muhammad Nasim, in opposition to the Nawaz Sharif government’s moves to sign the CTBT, that the Khushab reactor was playing a critical role in the production of "boosted thermonuclear weapons and the hydrogen bomb". The plutonium and tritium produced at Khushab are also essential in the manufacture of compact nuclear warheads readily fitted onto even smaller ballistic missiles. The Khushab Plant also houses Pakistan's only heavy-water production plant. Mahmood then, rather than being just an ordinary nuclear scientist concerned with power production, was in fact one of the key Pakistani weapons scientists until his resignation from the PAEC in 1999. Prior to his role at Khushab, he had been in charge of the enriched-uranium production program at Pakistan's second weapons material reactor at Kahuta.

Mahmood is described as a bright student from a poor family of farmers. He finished first in Punjab in his final school exams. After studying electrical engineering in Lahore he spent seven years in Britain in the 1960s, taking masters degrees in control systems and nuclear engineering.

He is reported to have studied engineering in England, according to Dr. Zia Mian, a Pakistani physicist at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He later acquired prominence as an engineer in the 1970's when he worked out a technique for detecting leaks in steam pipes at the Canadian-built reactor in the Karachi nuclear power plant. He patented this work later. He worked closely with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man hailed as the father of Pakistan's bomb.

When his long career in Pakistan’s secret nuclear program came to an abrupt end in 1999, family members and former colleagues say Bashiruddin Mahmood became more vocal in his beliefs — particularly his religious convictions. According to his son, since the UTN’s founding in March 2000, Mahmood made "two or three" trips to Afghanistan, the last in May 2001. In Pakistan, Mahmood acted as a de-facto Taliban ambassador-at-large, praising Afghanistan’s radical Islamic regime at various student rallies. Reports indicate the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has given the government of Pakistan, a list of six more nuclear scientists who have to be investigated for their suspected links with bin Laden's al-Qaeda network as well as their association with Mahmood and Majeed.

Earlier, in 1987, he published "Doomsday and Life after Death — The ultimate Fate of the Universe as seen through the Holy Quran," a 232-page treatise of theories based on ‘Islamic teachings’. In one chapter, Mahmood theorises that his "scientific mind can work backward and analyze the actual mechanism … of the great upheaval before the Earth’s Doomsday." He sought to explain how, through physics, the world would end. In the same year, he set up the Holy Koran Research Foundation in Islamabad as an Islamic study group.

He is a subscriber to a brand of what is known to practitioners as "Islamic science," which holds that the Koran is a fount of scientific knowledge. Bashiruddin Mahmood has published papers concerning djinni, which are described in the Koran as beings made of fire. He has proposed that these entities could be tapped to solve the energy crisis, and he has written on how to understand the mechanics of life after death. In an interview to The Wall Street Journal in 1998, he said, "I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them." He also added, "Every new idea has its opponents… But there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science."

Writing in Yespakistan, a Pakistani website, on the theme "Who are the Taliban?" Mahmood stated that the "Taliban are not people in power but upholders of a movement – the movement of the renaissance of Islam in the world. Simple proof of this is that all anti-Islamic forces are united in opposition to them. In the holy Koran, Allah has told us, 'All kufr [disbelief] will unite against the haq, the truth, of Islam'. Today the world is witness of this truth."

Described as a hard-line Islamist, his work was reportedly driven by an obsessive fear that Pakistan would one day be overshadowed by its rival on the subcontinent, India. Media reports indicate that after the May 18, 1974, Pokharan explosion, Mahmood is said to have sat in his room for two days and wept.

He wrote several books exploring his interest in life forces and doomsday scenarios. In one book, Cosmology and Human Destiny, written in 1999, he studied the peculiar impact of sunspots on daily life. Heavy sunspot activity, he argued, had coincided with the French Revolution, the American Declaration of Independence, the Russian Revolution and both world wars. He concluded that governments across the world "are already being subjected to great emotional aggression under the catalytic effect of the abnormally high sunspot activity under which they are most likely to adopt aggression as the natural solution for their problems".






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