Bombs involved in Yemen civilian deaths have Arizona ties




    A display showing the different types of bombs Raytheon builds. Photo by David Monniaux

    A New York Times Magazine report on the death and destruction caused by bombs dropped on civilians in Yemen by Saudi Arabia was able to trace back the origin of some of the bombs to Arizona.

    The bombs in question were dropped in Northern Yemen in 2016 on a group of civilians who were digging to create a well for their area.

    Arhab, the area where 31 civilians, including women and three children, were killed, had been running low on water. Despite fears over strikes that had already been occuring at drill sites, they continued.

    Hours after the bombing, locals gathered to see what had happened, only for them to be attacked for hours by more bombs and guns from Saudi planes.

    A year after the strike, the Joint Incident Assessment Team, a group of coalition members involved in the war in Yemen, released a statement that said they believed the drill site to be a ballistic-missile launcher.

    “It’s an excuse that strains credulity; ballistic-missile launchers do not look very much like drilling rigs. On the other hand, Saudi pilots are known to prefer flying as high as they can for fear of ground fire, and that makes them more likely to misidentify what they’re bombing. And thanks to American aerial refueling, the Saudi jets could engage in ‘dynamic targeting,’ meaning they go out and look for things to bomb,” the NYT Magazine story says.

    Researchers with Human Rights Watch visited the site to find pieces of the bomb, including serial numbers given out by the Department of Defense, which allowed journalists to trace the bomb’s history.

    The final stop for the bomb was at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson, where guidance systems and final changes are added.

    Raytheon is one of Arizona’s biggest employers, with nearly 11,000 workers and plans to add 2,000 more in the next five years, according to the Arizona Republic.

    The company is also expecting large amounts of money to continue to come in from the Saudis. Per the NYT Magazine:

    Earlier in November, President Trump put out an official statement defending, in mercenary terms, his continued support of the Saudis. “After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States,” the statement said. “Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.” (The State Department has acknowledged that only a $14.5 billion deal had been made at present.)

    Raytheon has long been supportive of Arizona elected officials.

    During the last election cycle, the company’s political action committee gave $12,500 to Arizona legislative and statewide candidates.

    Reps. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman; Randall Friese, D-Tucson; Todd Clodfelter, R-Tucson; Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa; Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler; Vince Leach, R-Sadelbrooke; and Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, all received money from Raytheon’s PAC.

    The company has also spent $8 million the past two years in lobbying efforts nationally.

    Raytheon makes more money on defense than any other company in the world except Lockheed Martin, with $25 billion in annual sales, according to the Times.

    For those living in war-torn Yemen, life is still complicated, frustrating and frightening.

    But what frustrated him most was the shrapnel the doctors couldn’t remove from his head. He told me it changes the way his mind works; he’s angry all the time, and he thinks there’s a chemical reason for that, something in the metal. Sometimes, he said, it hurts so badly that he has an urge to remove it and has to stop himself from grabbing a knife and cutting into his face. As Fahd was explaining this, the room grew quiet. He stopped midconversation, and someone pointed up at the ceiling as if having a thought. “F-15s.”

    Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
    Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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