What We Know about the Blasts in Beirut

(Foundation for American Security and Freedom) Dr. David Wurmser - On August 4, a fire broke out, perhaps due to a welding accident, in Hangar 9 of Beirut's port. Videos show black smoke, consistent with an industrial fire. After 20 minutes a fairly large explosion expanded the blast area into Hangar 12 and set the stage for a huge explosion 30 seconds later. After the initial fire, it appears some small munitions (some claim fireworks) began erupting soon after, causing a whitish-grey smoke. A video taken from an adjacent building shows crackling and popping occurring before a much larger blast. The absence of a spectacular airborne display of streamers and sparkling explosions - as would be consistent with firework explosions - seems to suggest that weapons of some sort rather than fireworks were igniting. Moreover, the explosion produced thick whitish-grey smoke consistent with high explosives and rocket fuel. 20 seconds after the blast, the escalating fire dramatically ramped up, as did the pace of white flashes in and above the building. Photos of the final explosion showed the simultaneous and uniform detonation of Hangar 12. The blast was equivalent to a 1.1 kiloton explosion - about 1/11th the size of the Hiroshima nuclear blast. The reddish brown thick smoke is indicative of a concentrated and high-quality, bomb-grade ammonium nitrate explosion. Fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate tends to explode with more blackish, oily smoke. Nitropril, which was seen on some of the bags, is the grade of ammonium nitrate used for explosives. Ammonium nitrate cannot combust by itself. This is why getting to the bottom of the initial explosion is so critical. Without that explosion, which was likely caused by munitions, there would never have been a catastrophe. Lebanese are universal in their belief that Hizbullah rules the critical areas of the port as a government within a government. Hangars 9 and 12 are the closest to the water, meaning they are prime warehouses for unloading ships without being detected. Lebanese port workers regarded Hangar 12 as an off-limits Hizbullah zone. The ammonium nitrate may well have been a Hizbullah stash to send to their operatives around the world, such as those caught in 2015 in London with 3 tons of ammonium nitrate, those caught in Cyprus with 9 tons of ammonium nitrate, and those caught in Germany with ammonium nitrate. The writer, a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to the U.S. National Security Council, is Director of the Center for Security Policy's Project on Global Anti-Semitism and the U.S.-Israel Relationship.

2020-08-10 00:00:00

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