Wired Magazine’s Inside Look at Syria’s Arms Makers
The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors.
Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death.
Wired Magazine’s Matthieu Aikins gives us a rare look into one of Aleppo’s makeshift bomb-making factories.
How War in Syria Turned These Ordinary Engineers Into Deadly Weapons Inventors
By Matthieu Aikins, et al.
ABU YASSIN pulls open the heavy iron gate of the school and steps back.
“Peace be upon you,” he says in Arabic, grinning and extending a hand, his arm stained to the elbow with aluminum powder. “Welcome, welcome.”
He turns and waves for me to follow. We walk along a short pathway toward the front door, past an assortment of ordnance laid out on the concrete, bombs that fell from the sky but failed to explode: an ovoid 88-millimeter mortar shell, a big 500-pounder with twisted tail fins, a neat row of pale-gray Russian cluster bomblets, their nose fuses removed. “Later! I will open them later!” he says, eyebrows waggling with anticipation.
The four-story school is shaped around a set of basketball courts, paved with stone tiles and pocked at the far end with small dark craters. A set of white plastic lawn chairs and a table have been arranged in the central courtyard near the door leading into the school.
A young boy walks over in silence. “Let’s see, coffee or tea?” Yassin says, distracted, contemplating the plastic furniture. Another assistant, an older man in a filthy smock, comes out and stands beside us holding a silver cylinder the size of a soda bottle. It’s wrapped in clear plastic tape and sprouts a red fuse, which the man proceeds to light.
The fuse sputters as he steps forward and pitches the cylinder underhand across the courtyard, where it bounces and rolls to a halt some 30 yards away.
“Explosion!” he yells as Yassin looks on.
With a deafening clap, the bomb bursts in a cloud of flame and smoke, buffeting our faces with a pressure wave. Yassin scurries forward and crouches on his haunches to examine the crater it leaves.
Slowly he walks back, shaking his head.
“Very bad, very bad,” he mutters—but then, remembering his guest, his expression brightens to a smile. “Please, sit down…”
“…These things are for killing people,” he tells me at once, in sudden disgust. “Every time I make a bomb, I feel sorrow…”
An exceptional glimpse into Syria’s current crisis and the homegrown bomb-makers fueling it, you can read Wired Magazine’s full article here.
* * * * * *
Article excerpt by Matthieu Aikins and Wired.com. Wired’s full article contains photographs and audio interviews by Moises Saman, and audio recordings by Sam Tarling and Alexander Fedyushkin.
The above photograph is by Moises Saman.