Sunday Telegraph: A multi-charged roadside bomb, developed by Hizbollah in Lebanon, is being used against British and American soldiers by Iraqi insurgents linked to Iran, according to military intelligence sources.
The Sunday Telegraph
By Toby Harnden, Chief Foreign Correspondent
A multi-charged roadside bomb, developed by Hizbollah in Lebanon, is being used against British and American soldiers by Iraqi insurgents linked to Iran, according to military intelligence sources.
The device consists of an array of up to five armour-piercing “explosively formed projectiles” or EFPs, also known as shaped charges. They are fired at different angles at coalition vehicles, resulting in almost certain death for at least some of the soldiers inside.
The bombs are easier for insurgents to use because, unlike single EFP devices, they do not need to be carefully aimed and so can be planted beside a road within a few seconds. Their killing potential is also enhanced because more than one EFP is likely to hit a single vehicle.
Some have been painted to look like concrete blocks – a modification of a tactic used by Iranian-backed Hizbollah, which hollowed out imitation rocks, bought in Beirut garden centres, to conceal bombs targeting Israeli vehicles.
A senior defence source said: “There are clear signs of Iran’s sinister hand, and through that, Hizbollah, in this development.”
A Pentagon document obtained by The Sunday Telegraph describes the devices as “well manufactured by experienced bomb makers” and “pioneered by Lebanese Hizbollah”. It adds: “The United Kingdom has accused Iran of providing these devices to insurgents in Iraq.”
Triggered when an infra-red beam is broken, the projectiles are capable of penetrating the armour of 60-ton Abrams tanks. Warrior armoured vehicles and Land Rovers, used by British forces in southern Iraq, offer almost no protection against them.
The Sunday Telegraph was the first newspaper to report the use of infra-red triggered devices, believed to be from Iran, against British troops. Since last May, 14 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq, including 12 by roadside bombs made up of EFPs and an infra-red trigger.
The latest British soldier killed in Iraq is believed to have been a victim of an infrared bomb. Lt Richard Palmer, 27, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, died near Basra two weeks ago after a roadside bomb exploded beside his Land Rover.
In February, John Negroponte, America’s director of national intelligence, blamed the Iranian government for the spread of such weapons throughout Iraq.
He told a United States Senate committee: “Teheran is responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-coalition attacks in 2005, by providing Shia militants with the capability to build IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices”> with explosively formed projectiles, similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hizbollah.”
Coalition forces recently intercepted an infra-red EFP device being transported into Iraq across the Shatt al-Arab waterway from Iran.
Many such devices use a simple motion sensor, made and sold legally by the Taiwan-based company Everspring.
EFP devices have a steel or copper curved dish that becomes a molten dart when the blasting cap is detonated. The Pentagon documents say that EFPs are “capable of penetrating armour plate up to 10cm thick or more at a range of 100 metres or more”.
There were 10,953 roadside bombings last year, compared with 5,607 in 2004.