EFP Update

EFP UPDATE….On Monday the U.S. Army discovered a new cache of components in Iraq for the manufacture of EFPs. So did the stuff come from Iran? Here’s what the Los Angeles Times says:

[Maj. Martin Weber] said that technical expertise was required to cut, stamp and mill the copper plates, as well as to arm and trigger the EFPs. Iran has the necessary expertise, he said….Referring to the C-4 explosives, rockets and mortar rounds, Weber said, “You can establish the country of origin, and that is a fact.”

But here’s the New York Times:

Among the confusing elements were cardboard boxes of the gray plastic PVC tubes used to make the canisters. The boxes appeared to contain shipments of tubes directly from factories in the Middle East, none of them in Iran. One box said in English that the tubes inside had been made in the United Arab Emirates and another said, in Arabic, “plastic made in Haditha,” a restive Sunni town on the Euphrates River in Iraq.

Hmmm. Perhaps it’s more like this, from the Wall Street Journal:

This find…is forcing U.S. officials to reassess their belief that such bombs were being built in Iran and smuggled fully assembled into Iraq….”We originally thought these came into Iraq already created, and now that intelligence has been totally relooked,” said Capt. Clayton Combs, who led the raid. “It’s like a playground kit you get in the mail: You can plot the instructions and start putting it together on-site, and that’s what we have here.”

Put it all together, along with the report last week that Iraqi insurgents already have the ability to manufacture the copper disks that form the core of EFPs themselves, and you end up with….mush. Iraqis are making the disks, various countries are supplying the PVC tubing, Iran may be supplying the explosives, and the final assembly is done locally. And since C-4 is practically like currency in the Middle East, who knows what circuitous route it took before making its way into the hands of Iraqi insurgents?

I dunno. I can be pretty easily convinced that Iran — or some faction in Iran — is helping out one or more of the factions in Iraq, but it’s going to take more than this. In addition, I’d like to know who this stuff was intended for. It was found in Diyala province, which is a mixed Sunni-Shia battleground at the moment, and none of the published reports provides a hint about which side we think cached these components. Stay tuned.