Radio Islam International | 20 Rajab 1438/18 April 2017
At 7.32pm on Thursday, April 13, 2017, the USA deployed the ‘mother of all bombs’ in Afghanistan, allegedly striking a complex of tunnels and bunkers used by Isis in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province. The bomb was reportedly dropped in the mountains close to Moman village in an area called Asadkhel. The following are a series of facts and reactions to the detonation that we have collated for a deeper understanding of the event and its repercussions.
- The MOAB is the second largest of the US military’s non-nuclear bombs
- It was never before used in combat, and upon its deployment became the largest conventional bomb the US has ever used in combat.
- ‘Mother of All Bombs’ is its nickname. Its official title is GBU-43/B or Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB)
- Its nickname reeks of misogyny and is insulting to mothers. As Medea Benjamin of Code Pink noted, “no mother loves bombs”. Dr Hakim, a medical practitioner heavily involved in humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, told Democracy Now: “This morning, as I was speaking to one of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Ali, he said, "Would any mother do that? Would any mother do that to Mother Earth? Or would any mother do this to any children?"”
- The cost of just this one bomb blast was $16m –enough to have provided over 50 million meals for Afghan children.
- The bomb weighs more than 10 000 kilograms and contains 8164 kilograms of explosive. It has an explosive yield equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT. It is built by the Alabama-based aeronautics company Dynetics. It measures 9,15 meters and its payload is made of tritonal, a mixture of the explosive material TNT and aluminum powder.
- The bomb is so large that it is carried in the cargo hold of an MC-130 aircraft before it is extracted by parachute from the rear of the plane
- The ‘mother of all bombs’ is GPS-guided and explodes above ground with a radius of more than a mile. Made to increase its range of destruction upon explosion, the bomb's force can clear out trees in a 152-meter-diameter
- “What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire,” said Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies think tank, to the Air Force Times.
- The U.S. military developed the bomb in 2002. The bomb was first tested on March 11, 2003, according to the US Air Force.
- There is also a ‘father of all bombs’. Developed in 2007 by Russia, it is reportedly more powerful than the MOAB
- Afghans who experienced its effects thought it was the end of the world. Afghan MP Esmatullah Shinwari recounted a man from the area telling him of the attack: “I have grown up in the war, and I have heard different kinds of explosions through 30 years: suicide attacks, earthquakes different kinds of blasts. I have never heard anything like this.”
After his evening prayers, Mohammad Shahzadah closed the house gates and sat down for dinner. Then the blast came, engulfing the sky in flames and sending tremors through the ground.
“The earth felt like a boat in a storm,” Shahzadah said. “I thought my house was being bombed. Last year a drone strike targeted a house next to mine, but this time it felt like the heavens were falling. The children and women were very scared.”
“My ears were deaf for a while. My windows and doors are broken. There are cracks in the walls,” he said.
“I don’t see why the bomb was dropped,” said the mayor of Achin, Naweed Shinwari. “It terrorised our people. My relatives thought the end of the world had come. Every day fighter jets, helicopters and drones are in the area.”
(Reporting from the Guardian, Democracy Now, ABC, The Independent and Ha’aretz)