Smith Appalled At NATO "Bible Gun" Afghanistan Blunder

21 January 2010
SNP member of the European Parliament's Arabian Peninsula Delegation Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) written urgently to the UK Secretary of Defence Bob Ainsworth urging him to take firm and clear action over the use by NATO and Afghan troops of US made gunsights inscribed with coded biblical references.

Smith has called for the gunsights to be immediately withdrawn before they become a rallying cry putting our troops in greater danger than they already are.

It has emerged in recent days that the US gun manufacturer Trijicon has inscribed coded references in gunsights, and that these gunsights have been shipped to Afghanistan for use by NATO, including UK, troops, and issue to the Afghan forces. While scantily reported in western media thus far, the issue is provoking widespread outrage across the Middle East.

Smith grew up in the Middle East, has close ties to the region and has just returned from Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Smith said:

"I usually keep my counsel on defence matters, as I am glad my parliament does not deal in guns and tanks and bombs, but this blunder just staggers me. For years there have been forces all too keen to portray the actions of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and indeed Iraq, as a clash of religions. This is wholly false, but for it to then emerge that our troops have been using, albeit inadvertently, gunsights inscribed with biblical references is a propaganda disaster of breathtaking proportions and the consequences for our troops already in harm's way could be grave.

"I fully accept the Ministry of Defence justification that they were unaware of the significance of the inscriptions, and that the gunsights were the best on the market. It seems odd that nobody thought to question what the letters and numbers meant, but it does at least ring true.

"But the fact is, regardless of how it happened, reaction to these gunsights being used will put our troops in even greater harm than they are now, and the UK Defence Secretary must act to withdraw the gunsights immediately, and to acknowledge the inadvertent blunder. At least this will deflate the evidently growing sense of outrage across certain sections of the Middle East population.

"An action such as this is sensitive enough without the US handing a propaganda boost to those who would do us harm."