Monday, 5 December, 2022
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Pakistan’s spy arrests: Brigadier’s kids studied in US, engineer bought home in his own name

Wasim Akram and Brigadier Raja Rizwan, whom Pakistan Army hanged last week for espionage, would not have been caught. But two things went wrong.

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Pakistan Army’s Brigadier Raja Rizwan was hanged this Sunday by the country’s military court, according to social media posts. The conviction and the death sentence awarded to the retired officer and a metallurgical engineer named Wasim Akram on charges of spying for the CIA have remained shrouded in mystery.

But today, I can exclusively reveal on the basis of information provided to me by my sources in Pakistan the backstory behind the arrest of these two, one of whom awaits his execution.

Wasim Akram’s missile skills

The story starts with the perfidy of Wasim Akram, who was employed by the Islamabad-based National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), the agency responsible for developing Pakistan’s missiles. Specifically, it is learnt that Akram was critical to the development of both Shaheen-II and Shaheen-III ballistic missiles whose operational ranges are between 2,000 km and 2,750 km.

Having honed his skills during the development of Shaheen-II, Akram became the team lead for Shaheen-III’s engine and motor development. His cover job was as a professor in the Pakistan Army’s Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering to avoid suspicion. Probably because of his centrality to the project, he was sent to the US on a trip. Some sources claim it was an official posting for one of the international military leadership networking/education programmes that the US Army runs; others vehemently deny this.

Also read: Pakistan hangs former brigadier for spying: Social media reports

When Akram turned into a ‘US spy’

What is not disputed, however, is that Akram thereafter regularly began to travel to New Mexico (where the two main US nuclear laboratories – Sandia and Los Alamos – are located), presumably to collect information without worrying about getting caught given the University of New Mexico’s Albuquerque campus has a nuclear reactor for students to experiment in. However, it was in New Mexico that Akram discovered he had a gambling addiction and indulged in it quite frequently. What we do know is that he got involved in some petty crime there; whether this had to do with his gambling or something else is not known. Regardless, he did cross the line of legality and was apprehended by the US law enforcement.

It is believed by Pakistan observers that this is when Akram was turned into becoming a US agent. The charge was apparently “minor” (we still do not know what exactly because the arrest wasn’t on the books); but it was the lure of money that turned him. On his return to Pakistan, he started providing a steady stream of information to the US. Specifically, he is known to have provided details of the Shaheen family’s (nuclear) warhead mating mechanism to the US as well as the names of the nuclear agency liaisons and the limited details he was given to design the missile.

The names allowed the US to pinpoint their intelligence efforts while the design details helped the Americans understand certain weights and dynamics of Pakistani nuclear warheads – specifically how much its weight affected the maximum range of the missiles (for example, a 2,000-km range missile carrying its full payload will have its range reduced to half). This allowed the US intelligence agencies to chart the trajectory of future developments accurately (and compromise those in the process).

Also read: Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths – and the belief its nuke secrets are secure

Akram’s mistake, enter Brig Rizwan

Under normal circumstances, these acts of espionage would not have been detected. However, two things went horribly wrong. The first was an attempt by the US to sabotage the Pakistani missile programme in the hope of slowing it down. The second was the recklessness of Akram himself. The Shaheen-III had completed two successful tests in 2015. Yet, in January 2016, when a routine test was conducted, it resulted in a spectacular failure (Pakistan does not announce failed tests). The inquiry found a series of “mistakes” that should have been avoided had standard operating procedures been followed.

Unsurprisingly, and unlike India, a security inquiry was immediately ordered by Pakistan. Initially, the inquiry found nothing, but curious details of Akram’s new house worth Rs 70 million (US$ 450,000) emerged. Akram had blundered by purchasing the house under his own name, unlike the standard practice of buying it under a family member’s name. However, even at this point, Akram’s espionage guilt had not been established, and he had only managed to raise a high suspicion of corruption.

The break came when the directed surveillance detected him contacting Brigadier Raja Rizwan. In the retired officer’s case, too many things began to fall in place — of his three kids, two (the elder son and one daughter) were in the United States, enrolled into on education programmes they were clearly not cut out for, with suspicious out-of-turn green card allotments. This was enough to arrest Akram and, under torture, he divulged details and provided evidence of his communications with Brigadier Raja. Then, the latter’s sustained torture revealed a pattern of passing information to the US since his days in Berlin in 2012.

There is a lesson here for India – a robust security programme that does not spare even those at the top from suspicion is one of the most effective counter intelligence tools. Sadly, in India “service loyalty” and a pervasive “VIP culture” often miss these vital clues. Equally revealing is the fact that even though the official ISPR statement does not name the agency this spy ring was linked to, Pakistani unofficial Twitter assets have been claiming Brig Raja and Wasim Akram were RAW agents. Clearly then, being a US agent gives you some form of protection, but being an Indian agent ensures execution.

The author is a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He tweets @iyervval. Views are personal. 

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  1. All such type of people, greedy of money, whether from forces, bureaucracy and politics should b hanged till death in front of public.
    So that no body can even think of espionage of pakistan’s secrets.

  2. I Dont understand why people are much greedier to such instance, when everything is given them like,house,land,free medical, safety, respect and many much more still these people Dont steadily follow the right path.
    Each and every such mongers should be not only punished as well as their families should also not given any rights to stay in the society… As by nowadays every poor child is bullied due to his poorness in the institutions, those family members should be bullied then only such mongers can understand that only money doesn’t matters.
    Please respect your army, respect your job and work as well as your country… If Pakistan is not there then we are nothing not even a grain.
    Pakistan Zindabad

  3. I congratulate intelligence agencies of Pakistan to locate black sheeps like brig wasim who are a total shame for the country

  4. CIA and RAW is fantastic 😂😂😂🐖🐖🖕🏿thanku so much wasim akram and Raja rizwan for your effort to make india’s bmd system more accurate

  5. Hindu idolaters must read the Holy Quran to understand their relationship with Allah (God) Almighty and where they stand corrected in the eyes of the Lord of the universe.
    Once they understand the Truth they will not be so recalcitrant after all.

  6. What makes a Hindu Indian to come on this Pakistan internal affairs topic, can purely be described as jelously and hatred of a neighbor who’s trying to sort things out for its own good.

  7. Do not quarrel with each other I Indians and pakis .our problems are alike.europeans are progressing and we are still fighting ad each other’s for nothing.for God sake have pity on each other.let us compete in promotion of education,sports,democratic values etc.there are many fields.the world is laughing on us and we are fighting wd each other like cocks.shame

    • Indians& Pakistanis May be alike in many ways . They are not the same.So the problems faced by both do not have a common Solution.Physical sufferings , problems , hardships , desired or needed goals vary in size& volume.
      For a Muslim, the Goal is to Love God Almighty Allah & Allah only. The way to achieve the goal is through Sirat – Mustaqeem , The Right Path . Persons like the above mentioned Spies reached their fate eventually .

      • ”For a Muslim, the Goal is to Love God Almighty Allah & Allah only.” And still, in every western country, Muslim prison population is far higher than their share of the general population. There is a high degree of hypocrisy. Don’t you agree?

  8. Well, it’s a good catch by Pakistani Intelligence Agencies but there may be more in the armed forces who will go underground for some time. Similarly, there will be many civilians, bureaucrats and politicians “serving” enemies. Our intelligence agencies should also catch them and hang them in public.

  9. Its, crystal clear the kafirs will be kafirs unless they are given hidayah. These kafirs around the globe especially the origins of hindus until today cannot prove whether their religion is genuine or fake item mend just for money making purpose. Its pointless talking to them about islam cos they will say in the end its their fore..fore …forefathers religion.hindus will worship anything you cannot stop them cos they think they are too smart its no point being too ignorant but thats what they are. The sun,moon,star,cow,elephant,rat,monkey you name it not forgetting even ghost becomes their god, they celebrate thaipusam its their religous celebration ,go and check it out, they will be in trance condition whats all that.

  10. Since Mody Hitler, terrorist became the PM,India no more seculer state ,Ghandi doctorine is thrown in ocen, now it is just Hindu state, all minority must be seaprated, Sikh are ready for Khalistan, and other state soon be librated from Dehli.

  11. Why you Indians are jealous of our friendship with China and Arab countries. We have always responded to India in a befitting manner alone.Did they forget the 28 Feb 2019 where we shot down their two fighters and grabbed ABI NANDAN whose pistol and uniform are offering the beauty of our museum. India is four time bigger than Pakistan but even than we have given them always a great lesson as we are equipped with jazba e Imaan which hindu is lacking.

  12. This is the internal Pakistan security matter.The spy hanged were Pakistani cotizen.Why some Indians are making here mess,I will give them shutt up call.A traitor will get, what he did.

  13. Brig Rizwan has not been hanged yet. There are no confirmed news about it on any news channel of Pakistan. However, spies must be found and dealt with severely.

  14. I a glad that my people who have big eyes on quisling have apprehended and punished them what they deserve death

    • Pakistan is totally dependent on China and the USA’s ally in gulf Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both China and the USA have every information on atomic, missile development by Pakistan army.

      • I think your statement is biased because America is not at all helping us, we are the one helping them OK and yes China is our good friend but we better even alone to teach India any type of lesson abd yes we have every information about the nuclear assets and hide about of India nad will respond when required

        • This is how Pak is helping America in Afghanistan. The whole country is ruined. The whole world knows that Pakistan belongs to punjabi army and nobody else. Today Pakistan is in a total mess.

          • How do you fare India, where one gets lynched on mere suspicion of eating beef. So in your eyes Pakistan may be a mess, but India is headed for a disaster.

      • What makes you think India’s nuclear capability and capacity is unknown to any country.
        Regardless of who PAKISTAN is dependent upon, point remains that it has the capability to successfully take on an adversary 4 times it’s size.

  15. I think they are being unnecessarily dramatic …. The Pakistanis are US sir China Ka maal ….. These guys have absolutely no industry ….the missiles are all Chori Ka maal !!!!

    • Dude. Chori ki bandook sy b banda mar jata hai. And we don’t need your stamp of approval to prove that Pakistan army is most professional.

    • Beta chori Ka Ho ya paise Ka Kab missile phattay ga tu bundd phaar De ga tumari …
      Pakistan Kisi Le Bhi rely Kare India Ki Pakistan Se hamesha phatteee Rahe Ga Insha’Allah

      • Abhi tak phoda nahi bhaai jaan. Kashmir liye humen 100 roz se jayada ho gaye. Shab e barat ke liye to nahi rakhe.

    • Your diatribe reflects how little you know about Pakistan’s capability.

      We in Pakistan were quite entertained by your technological advancement where your space launch went south. Keep it up. That truly showed India’s capability.

  16. Im happy that those spy got the bitter end but remember that there are so many in Pakistan army or intelligence service who is hired by US or india.pakistsn must dig them out.

    • Pakistan is totally dependent on China and the Gulf countries. USA is an ally of Gulf countries and Pakistan has a close relationship with the Gulf countries The USA has many sources to get each information about atomic and missile programme of Pakistan. Pakistan has similarity with Turkey because both have converted Muslim slaves population during Muslim rule.Today’s Turkey is not similar to the Ottoman Empire because original Turk population is negligible, 99% are converted East Europeans and Pakistan has a similar case.

      • Islam is not racial religion.
        It’s for all human being.
        Basic principles of Islam says
        No blue blood Arab is better then any slave or any slave better then Arab nighter black or white.
        Better person is whom have batter virtue.
        All Muslims are equal from Norway to New Zealand.

        • Then why all the Terrorists are only from your Religion.And wherever you are peace is destroyed.How can u say it is for the People.Bullshit

          • Without going into the history, manifesto and operations of the RSS (because that seems to result in bhagats going bat shit), ever heard of Tamil Tigers?

          • World War I
            World War II
            Vietnam War
            Korean War
            Congo Crisis
            were started by which Muslim Terrorist…?? Jews, Christian, etc. are still killing Millions of human being but still Only Muslims are Terrorist..?? Humm Good Thing!! 😉

  17. Iyer Mitra is a joke who cant be taken seriously when it comes to reporting anything about Islam and Muslims because of his insane bigotry and hatred which he exhibits 24/7.

    Get a better man to write.

    • Will you Pakistanis ever come out of this Islamic prism & start judging things keeping religion aside ?? The moment any no Muslim has a view that you guys can’t agree to then they are anti Islam & muslims. Easy to play victim card??
      It’s something like not being considered in IPL & Pakistanis conveniently come up with Muslim hatred theory behind it easily ignoring how many Muslims of other countries are playing..

  18. Judging from the article, Dr Akram was sort of the ringleader, Brig Raja was only secondary. But still the latter got hung first?

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