The Industrial Revolution of ISIS Weapons Development

Some excellent reporting has recently been released from Conflict Armament Research after a three year investigation into weapons of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Conflict Armament Research is a private arms-monitoring and investigative firm based in the U.K. that has done field work in both countries during the war.

The dangerous work investigates where ISIS had obtained supplies to manufacture it’s weapons and has documented how the Islamic State produced their own weapons. Investigators were able to trace back seized weapons, ordnance, and supplies to the originating sources discovering numerous cases of diversion from end users.  You can download the full report here.

Molds - ISIS 119.5mm mortars

(Above) A weapons investigation team found molds for 119.5-mm mortars in the abandoned Tal Afar bazaar, where tightly packed shops and metal roofing had helped keep the ISIS weapons factories hidden. Photo by ANDREA DICENZO

In addition to the report released by Conflict Armament Research, many news outlets published articles covering the findings. One article published by WIRED was a particularly good read and offered excellent insight into what it is like for the investigators working on the ground throughout Iraq and Syria. The article closely follows lead investigator Damien Spleeters, head of operations in Iraq and Syria for Conflict Armament Research.  You can read that article here.

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(Above) Spleeters inspects mortar projectiles in a building that ISIS abandoned when it lost control of Tal Afar. Photo by ANDREA DICENZO

The New York Times published a detailed article covering the industrial production and widespread use of explosive devices and weapons as discovered by Conflict Armament Research. It included interviews with several other experts actively working to defeat the deadly remnants left behind by ISIS. The article contained a good amount of input on the current status of demining operations and exploitation of the ongoing situation. This article can be found here.

Conflict Armament Research has published the following reports:

“Tracing the Supply of Components Used in Islamic State IEDs”

This report examines more than 700 components used by IS forces to manufacture IEDs, identifies their provenance, and traces their chains of custody. The report presents findings from field investigations in Iraq and Syria conducted over a period of 20 months from July 2014.

“Standardization and Quality Control in Islamic State’s Military Production”

This report is the result of field investigations during the initial phases of the assault on IS forces in eastern Mosul. It provides clear evidence of IS ability to manufacture weapons on an industrial scale, with output running into the tens of thousands.

“Weapons of the Islamic State”

This report is the result of more than three years of field investigation into Islamic State supply chains. It presents an analysis of more than 40,000 items recovered from the group between 2014 and 2017. These items encompass weapons, ammunition, and the traceable components and chemical precursors used by the group to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

 

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(Above) Photo by Conflict Armament Research

A series of shoulder-fired, recoilless launchers made by the Islamic State, shown with a variety of repurposed projectiles. ISIS weapons engineers took Soviet-era munitions and made West

(Above) Photo by Conflict Armament Research

IEDs seen in a ISIS weapons factory in Tal Afar

(Above) Photo by ANDREA DICENZO

(Above) Photo by Conflict Armament Research

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(Above) Photo by Conflict Armament Research

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(Above) Photo by Conflict Armament Research

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(Above) Photo by ANDREA DICENZO

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(Above) Photo by ANDREA DICENZO

Space heaters that the Islamic State modified into improvised bombs. They could be set off in multiple ways and were most likely meant to target families returning home. Credit Craig McI

(Above) Photo by Craig McInally/Norwegian People’s Aid

Space heaters that the Islamic State modified into improvised bombs. They could be set off in multiple ways and were most likely meant to target families returning home. Credit Craig McI

(Above) Photo by Craig McInally/Norwegian People’s Aid

One of the suicide belts mass-produced by the Islamic State, top. For these weapons, ISIS engineers preferred to use the more powerful and reliable explosives scavenged from conventional

(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

granular explosive from one of the suicide belt_s charges. Spectral analysis identified it as TNT, one of the most common military high explosives. Credit Ernest Barajas, Jr. (2)

(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

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(Above) Photo by Steve Kosier/Swiss Foundation for Mine Action

ISIS connected multiple means of initiation to a single device. Any of the four pressure plates would have detonated the bomb if stepped on. Credit Steve KosierSwiss Foundation for Mine

(Above) Photo by Steve Kosier/Swiss Foundation for Mine Action

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(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

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(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

An Islamic State improvised explosive device disguised to look like a rock, top, is triggered by a passive infrared sensor. The militants produced weapons like this by the thousands.

(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

sample of the Islamic State_s signature homemade explosive mixture, prepared for testing after removal from a similar I.E.D. Credit Ernest Barajas Jr.

(Above) Photo by Ernest Barajas Jr.

Sources:

http://www.conflictarm.com/download-file/?report_id=2568&file_id=2574

https://www.wired.com/story/terror-industrial-complex-isis-munitions-supply-chain/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/world/middleeast/isis-bombs.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

http://www.conflictarm.com/download-file/?report_id=2454&file_id=2496

http://www.conflictarm.com/download-file/?report_id=2279&file_id=2284

http://www.conflictarm.com

https://twitter.com/andreadicenzo

http://www.fsd.ch

 

 

 

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