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[casi] FW: made in Texas-weapon causes Baghdad massacre

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More on ‘tracing the missile’

The proof: marketplace deaths were caused by a US missile

By Cahal Milmo

02 April 2003

An American missile, identified from the remains of its serial number, was
pinpointed yesterday as the cause of the explosion at a Baghdad market on
Friday night that killed at least 62 Iraqis.

The codes on the foot-long shrapnel shard, seen by the Independent
correspondent Robert Fisk at the scene of the bombing in the Shu'ale
district, came from a weapon manufactured in Texas by Ray- theon, the
world's biggest producer of "smart" armaments.

The identification of the missile as American is an embarrassing blow to
Washington and London as they try to match their promises of minimal
civilian casualties with the reality of precision bombing.

Both governments have suggested the Shu'ale bombing ­ and the explosion at
another Baghdad market that killed at least 14 people last Wednesday ­ were
caused by ageing Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles. Jack Straw, the Foreign
Secretary, said yesterday it was "increasingly probable" the first explosion
was down to the Iraqis and Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, suggested on
BBC's Newsnight last night that President Saddam sacked his head of air
defences because they were not working properly.

But investigations by The Independent show that the missile ­ thought to be
either a Harm (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) device, or a Paveway
laser-guided bomb ­ was sold by Raytheon to the procurement arm of the US
Navy. The American military has confirmed that a navy EA-6B "Prowler" jet,
based on the USS Kittyhawk, was in action over the Iraqi capital on Friday
and fired at least one Harm missile to protect two American fighters from a
surface-to-air missile battery.

The Pentagon and Raytheon, which last year had sales of $16.8bn (£10.6bn),
declined to comment on the serial number evidence last night. A US Defence
Department spokeswoman said: "Our investigations are continuing. We cannot
comment on serial numbers which may or may not have been found at the

An official Washington source went further, claiming that the shrapnel could
have been planted at the scene by the Iraqi regime.

On Saturday, Downing Street disclosed intelligence that linked the Wednesday
attack ­ and by implication Friday's killings ­ on Iraqi missiles being
fired without radar guidance and falling back to earth. The Prime Minister's
spokesman said: "A large number of surface-to-air missiles have been
malfunctioning and many have failed to hit their targets and have fallen
back on to Baghdad. We are not saying definitively that these explosions
were caused by Iraqi missiles but people should approach this with due

The Anglo-American claims were undermined by the series of 25 digits and
letters on the piece of fuselage shown to Mr Fisk by an elderly resident of
Shu'ale who lived 100 yards from the site of the 6ft crater made by the

The numbers on the fragment ­ retrieved from the scene and not shown to the
Iraqi authorities ­ read: "30003-704ASB7492". The letter "B" was partially
obscured by scratches and may be an "H". It was followed by a second code:
"MFR 96214 09."

An online database of suppliers maintained by the Defence Logistics
Information Service, part of the Department of Defence, showed that the
reference MFR 96214 was the identification or "cage" number of a Raytheon
plant in the city of McKinney, Texas.

The 30003 reference refers to the Naval Air Systems Command, the procurement
agency responsible for furnishing the US Navy's air force with its weaponry.

The Pentagon refused to disclose which weapon was designated by the
remaining letters and numbers, although defence experts said the information
could be found within seconds from the Nato database of all items of
military hardware operated across the Alliance, "from a nuclear bomb to a
bath plug", as one put it.

Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot anti-missile system and the
Tomahawk cruise missile, lists its Harms and its latest Paveway III
laser-guided bombs, marketed with the slogan "One bomb, one target", as
among its most accurate weaponry.

The company's sales description for its anti-radar missile says: "Harm was
designed with performance and quality in mind. In actual field usage, Harm
now demonstrates reliability four times better than specification. No modern
weapons arsenal is complete without Harm in its inventory."

Faced with apparent proof that one of its missiles had been less accurate
than specification, Raytheon was more coy on the capabilities of its
products. A spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Tucson, Arizona,
said: "All questions relating to the use of our products in the field are to
be handled by the appropriate military authority."

Defence experts said the damage caused at Shu'ale was consistent with that
of Paveway or, more probably, a Harm weapon, which carries a warhead
designed to explode into thousands of aluminium fragments and has a range of

Despite its manufacturer's claims, it also has a record of unreliability
when fired at a target which "disappears" if, as the Iraqi forces do, the
target's operators switch their radar signal rapidly on and off. Nick Cook,
of Jane's Defence Weekly, said: "The problem with Harms is that they can be
seduced away from their targets by any sort of curious transmission. They
are meant to have corrected that but there have been problems." During the
Kosovo conflict four years ago, a farmer and his daughter were badly injured
when a missile exploded in their village. A shard of the casing was found
near by with a reference very similar to that found in Baghdad: "30003
704AS4829 MFP 96214."

The American navy confirmed that one of its Prowler jets, which is used to
jam enemy radar, had been over an unspecified area of Baghdad on Friday
night. A pool reporter on the carrier USS Kittyhawk was told that the
Prowler squadron had fired its first Harm on Friday evening in response to
an air-defence unit that was threatening two F/A-18 Hornet jets. Lieutenant
Rob Fluck told the journalist that the crew had not seen where their missile
had landed.

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