Smartbombs thought to have been part-made in Scotland were among weapons used in Yemen that killed or injured nearly 1000 civilians, a new report reveals.
Yemeni group Mwatana for Human Rights investigated 27 allegedly unlawful attacks by a Saudi-led coalition between April 2015 and April 2018.
Its report – which was also compiled by the University Network for Human Rights in the US – says that laser guided Paveway IV bombs made by Raytheon were among munitions dropped by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran.
At least 122 children and 56 women were among hundreds of casualties when civilian sites were hit, the report says.
Raytheon’s smart-bombs have been linked previously to war crimes allegations in Yemen, as reported by The Ferret.
The company employs around 700 people at its Glenrothes bomb factory and is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy. It has received more than £200,000 in grants from Scottish Enterprise.
Mwatana says remnants of UK-made Paveway IV laser guided bombs were found at four civilian sites after airstrikes.
Survivors gave eyewitness testimony to Mwatana including one man who likened the devastation of coalition airstrikes to the “Day of Judgment” – the name of Mwatana’s report.
“These twenty-seven airstrikes killed at least 203 people and injured at least 749,” Mwatana said.
It added: “Beyond the devastation of death and injury, survivors of the attacks and victims’ relatives described a number of other long-term effects of coalition attacks, including destruction of homes, displacement of families, closure of schools and medical facilities, unemployment, loss of livelihood, and trauma and other psychological impacts.”
Raytheon makes weapons in both the US and UK. Of the 27 attacks documented in the report, 25 incidents involved US made weapons. Five alleged war crimes involved UK made-bombs, four of which were made by Raytheon UK.
In these attacks one person died, at least three people were injured, while five factories and a cultural centre were destroyed.
The report details widespread carnage including an incident on 20th September 2016 when a US-made Raytheon Paveway II laser-guided bomb killed 15 people – including 12 children and three women – after a civilian pick-up truck was hit. The family was on its was to collect animal feed and grain.
The report included eyewitness testimony from Yemenis who witnessed airstrikes.
“When the bomb exploded, the light turned the night into daylight. The sound shook the house as if it were the Day of Judgment,” said Khadija Saleh, a 46-year-old woman who witnessed an airstrike in April 2015 when a Raytheon bomb killed a woman and injured six others including a child.
In another incident on 6th January 2016 a “UK-made Paveway IV laser-guided bomb with US-made Mk-82 warhead” was dropped on a warehouse in Hudaydah Governorate.
The report quotes 83-year-old Ahmed Qayed, sales director of Al-Muqbeli Corporation, who lives near the warehouse. “The fragments and fire were flying in front of us,” Ahmed said. “Because of this horrible scene, the two people who were with me went unconscious.”
Al-Muqbeli Warehouse was ablaze for three days. All the goods stored in the warehouse—including approximately 30,000 car parts—were destroyed in the attack and ensuing fire. A weapons remnant that experts identified as part of a guided bomb unit rear wing assembly was recovered at the site.
“The NATO Stock Number inscribed on the remnant, “NSN1325-01-545351,” is associated with the wing assembly for the Paveway IV,” the report said.
Mwatana said war crimes may have been committed and added: “Under customary international law as reflected in Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility, the United States, the UK, and other countries supporting the Saudi/UAE-led Coalition may also bear responsibility for aiding or assisting the Coalition’s indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. “
“If many of the companies supplying Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Coalition countries with arms were undertaking reasonable human rights due diligence processes, they would find that their products are being used to kill and maim Yemeni civilians in attacks that violate IHL’s proportionality and distinction requirements.
“These arms suppliers would also find that, after four years of conflict, the Coalition has failed to end its unlawful attacks. This record of repeated abuse is the basis for a criminal complaint brought in Italy against the Italian arms company RWM Italia S.p.A., which supplied the suspension lug for a US-made bomb used in a 2016 Coalition airstrike that killed a family of six (see Section II, supra).”
“Arms suppliers should therefore end sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Coalition countries altogether.”
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The evidence is now utterly clear, direct, and undeniable that Saudi forces are using weapons made in Scotland to commit war crimes. This report is a forensic and comprehensive call for change. But the appalling cases it analyses are only the tip of the iceberg.
“The bombing has lasted four years, and has killed tens of thousand of people. It has destroyed vital infrastructure and created the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world. Regardless of how appalling the situation has become, the arms sales have continued unabated.
“The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has called for a solution to the conflict. If he wants to stop the war then he must start by ending UK arms sales.”
The University Network for Human Rights said: “The US Senate must not delay in demanding an immediate end to US involvement in a brutal campaign that has brought death, destruction, and humanitarian catastrophe to the poorest country in the region.
“It is a moral and legal imperative for the US and remaining European states supplying Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Coalition countries with weapons for use in Yemen to halt these transfers immediately. Many lives depend on swift action by the United States and European governments.”
Raytheon did not respond to our request for a comment.
A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “The Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and will not grant a licence if to do so would be inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty. All export licence applications for Saudi Arabia are assessed rigorously on a case-by-case basis taking into account all available information from a wide range of sources.
“The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts towards a political settlement to the Yemen conflict, the only lasting solution to the humanitarian crisis.”
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Textron Defense Systems and GEC-Marconi Dynamics are also named in Mwatana’s report, which said the Houthi armed group has also violated the laws of war by indiscriminately shelling civilians, committing acts of torture and conscripting child soldiers.
UNICEF said last week that eight children a day were being killed in Yemen.
This article was published in the Sunday Mail on 10 March 2019.