Pakistani Bomber Supplier Plans to Set Up Shop in U.S. Tax-Exempt Bonds for Fertilizer Plant

Article excerpt

Byline: Rowan Scarborough , THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Pakistani corporation that has refused the Pentagon's urgent appeals to control the flow of explosive materials to makers of bombs that kill U.S. troops is expanding its fertilizer manufacturing into the United States.

It also is being done with the help of U.S. taxpayers through the municipal bond market.

The Indiana Finance Authority has approved $1.27 billion in tax-exempt bonds for Midwest Fertilizer Corp. to build a nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturing plant in Posey County. Midwest is a startup company of the Fatima Group, a conglomerate with headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan.

Terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan use Fatima's fertilizer components to build homemade bombs - the No. 1 killer of American service members in Afghanistan.

Fatima's corporate leaders know this is happening, based on communications with Obama administration officials and military leaders. But they have refused pleas to control the flow, an Army general said.

Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, who heads the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, bluntly criticized Fatima in testimony last month before a Senate panel.

He called Fatima less than cooperative in instituting even minimal controls on calcium ammonium nitrate, a fertilizing compound that has been used in 70 percent of the homemade explosives deployed against U.S. troops.

Fatima is the only Pakistani producer of calcium ammonium nitrate, which is illegal to import into Afghanistan.

Gen. Barbero said that nearly 1,900 Americans in Afghanistan had been killed or wounded by homemade bombs in 2012 at the time of his Dec. 13 testimony. He said the only sources for the calcium ammonium nitrate are two Fatima Group plants in Pakistan.

In his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs, Gen. Barbero said:

"In 2011, I engaged the top leadership of Fatima Group, the producers of [calcium ammonium nitrate] in Pakistan, to urge their action in countering the illicit use of their fertilizer as an explosive through the implementation of several steps - a dye program, better tracking and such - but I also engaged the International Fertilizer [Industry] Association and global fertilizer community to encourage the development of a whole-of-industry approach addressing the illicit use of their products.

"While the international and U.S. professional fertilizer associations are receptive and actively addressing these issues, the producers within Pakistan have been less than cooperative. Despite making minor packaging, tracking and marketing changes, they have not implemented any effective product security or stewardship efforts. I believe Pakistani-based CAN producers can and must do more.

While the government of Pakistan has taken military actions to address the idea of threatening and going after these networks, these efforts remain focused on Pakistan's domestic threat and have had no measurable effect on the number of [bombings] in Afghanistan, on the flow of [homemade explosives] precursor materials smuggled across the border, or on the threat of networks operating in Pakistan who attack our troops in Afghanistan. …