Barely a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, two Pakistani nuclear scientists, said to be close to disgraced Abdul Qadeer Khan, met up with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and offered to supply him with atomic weapons, according to a newly released book.
Chaudiri Abdul Majeed and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who held a series of senior posts in Pakistani nuke programme, went to Taliban headquarters in Kandahar in mid-August 2001 and spent three days with bin Laden who was keen on acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the book says.
In fact, Mahmood was said to be more close to Khan, the Father of the Islamic bomb' and the mastermind behind a vast clandestine enterprise which sold nuclear secrets to rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Libya. He also set up the pilot plant for Pakistan's uranium-enrichment programme.
However, the so-called deal did not materialise as the meeting between the Pakistani nuclear scientists and bin Laden ended inconclusively when the al-Qaeda leader, along with some of his senior associates, had abruptly left for the mountains of northwestern Afghanistan.
And, according to the book, The Man From Pakistan -- the true story of the world's most dangerous nuclear smuggler AQ Khan -- before leaving, bin Laden had told his followers that "something great was going to happen, and Muslims around the world were going to join them in the holy war". A couple of weeks later, the twin towers in New York were brought down.
The 414-page book is authored by two investigative journalists -- Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins.