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Components of ISIL Bombs Purchased In Erbil

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A report released today by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) outlines the supply chain utilised by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the production of improvised explosive devices (IED). CAR’s investigations have so far uncovered components for IED from 51 companies across 20 countries.

It is revealed in the report that critical parts for the remote detonation of some IED were purchased in the bazaar in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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The provenance and supply of materials used in ISIL’s ‘quasi-industrial’ manufacture of IED is markedly different to that of military weapons, as “IED components are commercial goods that are not subject to government export licences and whose transfer is far less scrutinised and regulated than the transfer of weapons.” IED are typically manufactured using materials such as urea and aluminium paste which are not subject to transfer controls such as export licenses, or components which require export licenses but are used in common commercial activities, such as detonators and detonating cord, which are used in mining and industry.

IED are responsible for heavy casualties on the civilian population as well as on active battlefields, and the ISIL tactic of booby trapping areas from which they withdraw means that displaced populations face significant threats as they return to their homes.

CAR investigated 700 components used by ISIL to manufacture IED, recovered from battles in and around Kirkuk, Mosul, al Rabia, and Tikrit, and frontlines in Kurdish areas of Syria. The report identifies countries and companies along the supply chain of the components, but does not imply an connection between them and ISIL.

Of the 51 companies identified in the supply chain, 13 are based in Turkey, with chemical precursors, containers, detonating cord, cables, and wires either manufactured or sold by Turkish businesses before being obtained by ISIL. None of these companies export goods to either Iraq or Syria, meaning that ISIL or intermediaries bought the components in Turkey before transferring them across the borders.

The majority of detonators, detonating cord, and safety fuses were manufactured in India, and exported with the required licenses to Turkey or Lebanon before falling into the hands of ISIL and companies headquartered in Japan, Switzerland, and the United States manufactured the microcontrollers and transistors used in IED.

ISIL uses mobile phones for the detonation of a particular type of IED, and the Model 105 Type RM-908 Nokia has been recovered by CAR on a number of occasions. While investigations are ongoing, CAR has identified that two of these phones were supplied to intermediaries in Erbil. CAR estimates that the time from the lawful acquisition of the mobiles by distributors until their use by ISIL is about seven months.

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