With Mark Schapiro’s investigative report, “The Middleman,” FRONTLINE/World begins an ongoing series about the frightening world of nuclear smuggling. In a rare moment of agreement during last year’s presidential debates, George Bush and John Kerry both declared nuclear proliferation as the single most serious threat the United States faces. Their bipartisan concern followed revelations that the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb – A.Q. Khan – had sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. U.S. investigators have not been allowed to question Khan, who is still considered a national hero in Pakistan. 

In a joint investigation with the Center for Investigative Reporting and Mother Jones magazine, FRONTLINE/World correspondent Schapiro probes the strange case of a South African businessman, Asher Karni, who attempted to export 200 nuclear bomb triggers from the U.S. to Pakistan via Cape Town. The importer was Humayun Khan, an Islamabad businessman with close ties to Pakistan’s military.

This is our first installment in Schapiro’s probe of the Karni case – a report that appears in the May/June issue of Mother Jones. We also include photos and video clips, which will be part of a web-exclusive video investigation based on Schapiro’s and producer Cassandra Herrman’s recent trip to South Africa.

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Mark Schapiro specializes in international and environmental stories. His award-winning work appears in all media: in publications such as Harpers, The Atlantic, Mother Jones and Yale 360; on television, including PBS FRONTLINE/World and KQED; on public radio including Marketplace; and on the web. He is currently writing a book for Wiley & Co. investigating the backstory to our carbon footprints. His previous book, "EXPOSED: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power," reveals the health and economic implications of the tightening of environmental standards by the European Union.