An estimated 80% of the roadside bombs that have killed or injured U.S. forces in Afghanistan were made with chemicals manufactured by Pakistani fertilizer maker Fatima Group. Now the company wants U.S. taxpayer funds to open a plant in Indiana.
“Not only was this company Fatima able to still ship calcium ammonium nitrate to make bombs across the border into Afghanistan,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), “but they were almost getting ready to take advantage of taxpayer-subsidized loans to set up shop in Indiana to make more fertilizer while they were sending bomb making material across the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”
Duncan says the Pentagon and State Department’s efforts to get the Fatima Group to change its fertilizer have “completely failed” largely because the Pakistani government has thwarted their efforts.
“The producers within Pakistan have been less than cooperative,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, director of military Joint IED Defeat Organization. “Despite making minor packaging, tracking and marketing changes, they have not implemented any effective product security or stewardship efforts. Pakistani-based CAN producers can and must do more. Frustratingly, all direct communication and engagement with the leaders of Fatima Group was halted by the government of Pakistan.”
Indiana officials have suspended the company’s bid for taxpayer-funded subsidies, and Fatima says it is now willing to create a compound that cannot be used for explosive devices. Furthermore, Barbero says “Fatima confirmed to me in writing that it has suspended sales of CAN fertilizer products in the border provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, affecting 228 dealers in those areas.”
Fox News says the Pakistani fertilizer maker claims it is already making efforts to fix its formula.
The Fatima Group also recently released a video that it says shows a test of a new, less explosive fertilizer they are trying to produce. “As you can see from the video testing, the Fatima Group has successfully created a more inert formulation of ammonium nitrate fertilizer,” Fatima said in a statement to Fox News. “Our extensive research and rigorous testing have led to the development of a formulation that has made it extremely difficult — if not impossible — to modify ammonium nitrate fertilizer into an explosive.”
U.S. Defense officials are still awaiting visas from the Pakistani government to visit Pakistan to see the facility themselves and whether the company’s claims that they have made their fertilizer more inert are true.
In 2012, improvised explosive devices were responsible for nearly 1,900 U.S. casualties. In the last two years, Afghanistan roadside bomb attacks increased 80%.