The U.S. Thursday (April 13) dropped a bomb with an explosive force equal to 11 tons of TNT on a cave complex used by the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) , the Pentagon said.
The bomb is officially called a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), the origin of its nickname as the “mother of all bombs.” ,
The 9,797kg GBU-43 was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, according to the Pentagon.
At the White House, President Donald Trump called the bombing “another very, very successful mission.” According to CBS News, asked if he personally authorized the strike, Mr. Trump said “everybody knows exactly what happened.” “What I do is I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have the greatest military in the world and they’ve done their job as usual. So, we have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing.”
White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said that the strike targeted a “system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely.” He said the U.S. “took all precautions necessary” to minimize civilian casualties.
Not surprisingly, the office of the US-client Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement the US attack was a part of a joint operation by Afghan and international troops. “Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties,” it said.
In a statement, the U.S. command in Afghanistan said the strike was “designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS fighters and facilities.” General John Nicholson, head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said the “weapon achieved its intended purpose”. Nicholson said the decision to use the bomb was based on his assessment of military needs and not broader political considerations.
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has condemned the dropping of the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, saying Afghanistan shouldn’t be used as a “testing ground” for weapons. In a series of Twitter posts, Karzai said: “This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”
Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, also took to Twitter to share his views. Alluding to the bombing of Afghanistan since 1979, first by the USSR and then the U.S., ambassador Zakhiwal said:
“If big bombs were the solution we would be the most secure place on earth today.”
Hindustan Times quoted an Afghan journalist as tweeting: While the “civilized west” is celebrating Easter, the “uncivilized & barbarian Afghan Muslims” are being dropped at 21,000-pound bomb… Dropping ‘mother of all bombs’ was yet another stage show by Trump who made it clear that Muslim lands are but the West’s laboratories.
The GBU-43 ultra-heavy bomb is equal to 11 tonnes of TNT with a blast radius of 1.6km on each side. At a village 5km from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, witnesses said the ground shook from shockwaves, but homes and shops appeared unaffected. “Last night’s bomb was really huge. When it dropped, everywhere it was shaking,” a resident told Reuters news agency, adding he believed no civilians were in the area hit.
Al Jazeera quoted spokesman for a hospital in eastern Nangarhar, as saying that the facility had received no dead or wounded from the attack.
On its part, ISIL denied it suffered any casualties. “Security source to Amaq agency denies any dead or wounded from the American strike in Nangarhar using a GBU-43/B,” the group’s self-styled news agency said on social media accounts.
The Taliban, meanwhile, condemned the bombing. “Using this massive bomb cannot be justified and will leave a material and psychological impact on our people,” the armed group said in a statement.
The GBU-43 Mother Of All Bombs
The 9,797kg GBU-43 was developed in 2003 just before the invasion of Iraq. According to the then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the test was in Florida intended to demonstrate the “enormous incentive” Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had to relinquish power and “spare the world a conflict.” The GBU-43 had never before been used in combat since its first test in 2003.
Marcus Weisgerber, global business editor of Defense One, tells CBS News that this heavy bomb is used to “penetrate through rock and concrete and then once they get through, they explode, creating devastation to whatever is below.” “It was the type of weapon that was most suited for this type of mission,” Weisgerber tells CBS News. “It was a target below the ground and there are a lot of people there — and this is the type of weapon that would neutralize that number of people.”
5,700 kg of GSX explosives, BLU-82 ‘Daisy Cutter,’ is the predecessor of 9,797kg GBU-43. BLU-82 ‘Daisy Cutter,’ was reportedly developed to create helicopter landing zones in dense jungles during the Vietnam conflict. It was dropped during the 1991 Gulf War on Iraqi troop concentrations. In November 2001, U.S. warplanes dropped the 15,000-pound “Daisy Cutter” bomb in Afghanistan. The USA Today reported in November 2001 that the Pentagon acknowledged that two of the automobile-sized bombs, the most powerful non-nuclear weapons in the U.S. inventory, have been dropped on Taliban troops in the past week.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www. journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com