Local leaders in Afghanistan are thanking the U.S. military for dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” last week, saying it effectively wiped out ISIS (called ‘Daesh’ in Arabic) in the region. In fact, Afghans in the region are hoping the United States drops more MOABs on other ISIS bases in the country.
At least 96 members of ISIS were killed when the GBU-43/B, otherwise known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, and dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” was dropped on an underground complex in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.
“The attack was successful, and we all are happy, since there were no civilian casualties,” Zabiullah Zmarai, secretary of the provincial council in Nangarhar, told Foreign Policy. The official added that tribal areas from the neighboring districts of Shinwari, Charigam, and Kot had reached out to him to praise the MOAB. “Daesh [the Arabic term for the Islamic State] was a huge threat to the people in Nangarhar. They are relieved they were finished off with one bomb.”
Malawi Subhanullah Salim, an imam from the Bati Kot district bordering Acchin, spoke enthusiastically about the attack. “They [the United States] have pulled out the Islamic State by the roots from this region,” he told Foreign Policy, adding that his community welcomed this operation and was pleased with the results.
The U.S. military defended the use of the bomb, which has been largely criticized by Democrats and some Arab leaders.
The strike, directed at a network of tunnels used by insurgents, drew global attention to the long-running conflict in Afghanistan. “It was the right weapon, for the right target,” General John W. Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, told a room of journalists in Kabul on Friday afternoon. But it wasn’t just Americans who were enthusiastic about the strike. Despite the worries sparked worldwide by the news, local Afghan leaders were cheering the MOAB.
It is also being reported that Afghan leaders in the area, in conjunction with the American military, worked to clear civilians from the area before the “Mother of All Bombs” dropped.
The strategy worked: no civilian casualties were reported.
Sediq Seddiqi, director of the Government Media & Information Center, told Foreign Policy that civilians had been warned about the attack and that surveillance footage of the site indicated there is no evidence of civilian casualties. “The Afghan forces working alongside the U.S. forces ensured that the last of the families living in that area were evacuated two days prior to the explosion,” said Javid Faisal, spokesperson for Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of the Islamic Republic. Zmarai, the local council leader, added that the United States had distributed leaflets by helicopter telling civilians to clear the area.
Although leaders both locally and in Kabul cheered the operation, former President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of using Afghanistan as a testing ground for dangerous weapons. “It is upon us Afghans to stop the USA,” he said on social media.
The “Mother of All Bombs” works using thermobaric principles. The results are so devastating, that anything within 30 feet of the bomb’s detonation point is instantly vaporized.
In the milliseconds following the initial blast, all the oxygen would have been sucked out of the tunnels and for hundreds of feet around, literally sucking the life out of terrorists, suffocating them as their lungs imploded.
Then, in a flash the fiery shockwave would have blasted outwards at the speed of sound for up to a mile, causing huge concussive injuries to anyone caught in its path, essentially smashing them to death.
Ears would have been left bleeding and internal organs battered by the staggering force of the blast.
Anyone caught inside the tunnels would have been crushed as the force of 19,000 pounds of highly complex explosives caused them to collapse on the ISIS terrorists.
The Pentagon estimates that up to 800 ISIS soldiers were in the area at the time of the blast.
A crater left by the blast is believed to be more than 300 feet wide after it exploded just six feet above the ground. Anyone at the blast site was vaporized.
The energy released would have caused a barometric shock wave known as ‘overpressure’ that moves at the speed of sound away from ground zero.
The Mother of All Bombs features a two stage detonation powered by H6 explosive which contains powdered aluminum.
The first blast detonates and spreads highly flammable aluminum dust and the second is the baric blast – which literally sucks oxygen out from cave tunnels before rapidly becoming an expanding shock wave.
Both the implosion and the blast wave cause massive internal damage to anyone who has not been already been incinerated by the detonation, with most injuries to hollow organs such as the ears, lungs and stomach.
Anyone in the tunnels who did not have the life sucked out them would have then been crushed to death by the sheer force of the explosion.