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Sunday, October 27, 2019

OPCW Whistleblower: Chlorine Levels

October 27, 2019
last edits Dec. 12

Last week, news broke about a panel discussion in Brussels on October 15 regarding the OPCW's dishonest methods investigating the 2018 Douma incident. A whistleblower from the organization - "Alex" - was there to reveal suppression of evidence on several levels. In attendance were people from Wikileaks-connected Courage Foundation, journalists and professionals including Richard Falk (the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian situation), and in absentia José Bustani, the first-ever Director General OPCW, famously forced from office in 2002 for refusing to play by the Americans' rules in the run-up to their war on Iraq. Bustani is quoted as saying about this event (which was used to justify U.S.-led missile attacks on Syria):

“The convincing evidence of irregular behaviour in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had. I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing”

The Western mainstream press is silent so far, but alternative sources like Consortium News have run stories on it. The sources I looked at include:

* Courage Foundation: OPCW panel statement/

* Wikileaks.org page on the subject
** report Associated summary report (PDF)
**"A critical analysis of the final report of the Douma investigation left the panel in little doubt that conclusions drawn from each of the key evidentiary pillars of the investigation (chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and witness testimonies,) are flawed and bear little relation to the facts."

* Sputnik evil Russian news coverage

* Karin Leukefeld with a German-language report from Nachdenkseiten
** translated to English by Michael Kobs

* Richard Falk's thoughtful dispatch, and more can be found at Tim Hayward's sources collection

I myself have been almost silent on this so far, and haven't fully absorbed the material just yet. But it seems full of valuable revelations, which I plan to cover generally in another post soon. But first I have to risk casting some doubt on all of it by issuing a sort of warning that should have been up already: among the key findings are a few points clearly suggesting chlorine-related compounds were found at such low levels they would essentially prove that no such gas was even released.

OPCW investigators find no chlorine at attack sites in Douma!

If that sounds like your impression of this revelation, or where it points, you could be right. Veteren journalist Jonathan Steele, for example, attended the panel in Brussels himself and reported back in a BBC interview (here citing Tim Hayward t'sranscript) how:

"...(the whistleblower) claims he was in charge of picking up the samples in the affected areas, and in neutral areas, to check whether there were chlorine derivatives there … and he found that there was no difference. So it rather suggested there was no chemical gas attack [meaning no gas release] because in the buildings where the people allegedly died there was no extra chlorinated organic chemicals than in the normal streets elsewhere. And I put this to the OPCW for comment, and they haven’t yet replied. But it rather suggests that a lot of this was propaganda…"

That would obviously be quite interesting, and to many casual and even involved observers, that's good enough to take it as probably true. But this post may worth reviewing before you go running with that. I've followed the issue closely, and to me that notion raises huge and puzzling questions, as it had always seemed chlorine was released in pretty copious amounts, although "attack" isn't the right word for what I suspect happened.

It still remains a fact that chlorine rarely kills in a way that 35 people would drop dead at one location. So this chlorine would not explain the deaths, and I'm still just as sure as the OPCW FFM's engineering sub-team was that nothing related fell from a helicopter. I still think those people were murdered in a gas chamber somewhere else, and the scenes were staged. But much evidence has always suggested chlorine gas was released to help make the case presented by the massacre managers.

I've had to do this a bit lately - champion non-core subjects that someone has made controversial enough to cause confusion (as I see it) that harms the overall search for truth. (previously supporting part of the Bellingcat take in the M4000 binary sarin controversy, and work on other claims from the same source are in progress). It's not fun on balance, and perhaps not needed. But perhaps it is needed, so I come out defending a point raised by the shady and politicized OPCW's Syria "Fact-Finding Mission" (FFM), because I still suspect that point was true, and I maintain truth has to be our basis always, not just when the source of it is politically acceptable.

Withheld findings 
From the Wikileaks report, section 2. Chemical Analysis: "Many, if not all, of the so- called ‘smoking gun” chlorinated organic chemicals claimed to be “not naturally present in the environment” (para 2.6) are in fact ubiquitous in the background, either naturally or anthropogenically (wood preservatives, chlorinated water supplies etc)."

I'm no expert, but I suppose this is true and that the levels for most of these will normally be very low. They will vary some from place to place, so it helps to compare local norms to the site in question. Wikileaks continues to note the FFM's report (Annex 4 para 7) agrees on "the importance of gathering control samples to measure the background for such chlorinated organic derivatives." This makes it interesting that, as noted,"no analysis results for these same control samples ... were reported." Leukefeld heard "samples  from  the  natural environment to determine the natural content of such substances were not taken." It could be they were gathered and analyzed, but for some reason, the findings were not included in the FFM's final word to the public on their investigation.

Furthermore, the report doesn't give either side of the data to compare; the chemicals found on crime-scene items are listed, but not the quantities, in ppm or any units. Wikileaks continues:
"Although the report stresses the ‘levels’ of the chlorinated organic chemicals as a basis for its conclusions (para 2.6), it never mentions what those levels were — high, low, trace, sub-trace? Without providing data on the levels of these so-called ‘smoking-gun’ chemicals either for background or test samples, it is impossible to know if they were not simply due to background presence."
I don't mean to understate the importance of this exclusion of environmental analysis results. But I don't want to overstate it either, because this doesn't in itself prove or even strongly suggest the lack of chlorine release it could easily be taken as. I would reason that the levels around the source of any sizeable release should be much, much higher than the usual range for background noise. In that case, it would be reasonable - if not technically proper - to infer there was a release simply from the high readings, even if nothing at all is given for comparison.

So the results aren't shown, on either end, and it's natural to wonder what that reflects. Let's consider three main possible reasons for that:
1) to hide a lack of chlorine (so the mention of unusual levels is a lie)
2) to create a false lead to that end to get truth-seekers misleading each other (contradicted by the note that levels were an unusual)
3) for no motive, just in some kind of random oversight where high levels are mentioned, but not quantified.

So left at just "unseen," the levels could be too low for chlorine release, or high enough to suggest that after all. As it happens, there are a few clues to give some indication. But unfortunately, they point in the same two opposing directions as the general dispute they support.

Actual too low, or even sub-normal, levels? 
As of the recent panel, and never prior to that, we hear that chlorine findings were abnormally low at the incident sites in Douma - low even for usual background levels, let alone for an actual release. Karin Leukefeld's Nachdenkseiten report states, from the reporter's attendance and detailed observation: "The chlorinated organic chemicals found in the samples were many times less than those found in the natural environment (e.g. water)." The exact source for that was't clear to me, but it should refer to the alleged attack sites (location 2 and 4). Because pointing out that the control samples had unusually low chlorine levels means nothing.

(Add: Michael Kobs suggests it's just less than found in chlorinated water, but more than normally found in the environment, so fairly normal levels - but again that's presumably at the apparent release sites where readings should be above normal.)

More directly, the whistleblower "Alex" himself is cited as explaining how "the chemical substances found (including bornyl chloride) were preservatives “in a lower dose than in the coffee you drink”." And further, "an internal correspondence" is said to relate how “In most cases only 'traces’ were recognizable, in parts per billion (PPB), as low as 1 - 2 ppb.”

1 or 2 ppb being reliably detected means at least 1-2 billion (molecules?) of material need sampled for just TWO molecules of the chlorinated compounds to appear. How many billions are in the standard sample, and how many of the target chemicals need to be present for any to be found? Remember ONE is the lowest possible number above zero. I have a hard enough time with huge numbers and tiny particles to be sure, but … I'm not certain that makes total sense even in principle, let alone per the still-unclear details about which chemicals in what quantities vs. what norms for the same, locally or in general. Is it possible someone misread ppm (parts per mission) as ppb? That doesn't sound likely, but it would make a huge 1,000-fold difference, for 1,000-2,000 ppb.

And in context, it seems quite strange to me that even after the easily-obtained chlorine-looking tanks were brought in, after signs consistent with copious release were created (see below), there was just no chlorine release. I could believe such a failure coming from the defeated Jihadists of Douma, and easily ... with adequate reason. They can really exceed at failure. But even these credible-seeming claims somehow don't cut it for me. In fact we hear of unusually low levels that almost suggest some kind of anti-chlorine was leaked from those cylinders to make those areas "several times" cleaner than normal. That just makes me suspect we have something wrong and we're at risk of getting confused here.

Finally, the Wikileaks summary includes a related point: "Although biomedical analyses supposedly contributed to the conclusions of the report (para 2.17), the same report is unequivocal in stating that “no relevant chemicals were found” in biological samples (Table A5.2)." First, in an OPCW context, the word "relevant" tends to mean "relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention" - banned substances like sarin, etc. Chlorine isn't banned in itself, but its use as a weapon is, so they would call it relevant, I think. But it does not turn up directly in tests (CDC), so its not being found in tests is irrelevant to its possible presence, and supports neither view.

Elevated and varying levels? 
In sharp contrast to all that, the FFM report makes several claims about specific levels that would have to be lies, if the above impression were accurate.

As mentioned, paragraph 2.6 in the report s-1731-2019(e) claims that objects at both sites ("Locations 2 and 4" specified) "had been in contact with one or more substances containing reactive chlorine." This is explained as "based on the levels of chlorinated organic derivatives ... which are not naturally present in the environment." (emphasis mine - this is in direct contrast with the claims "Alex" brings to light).

A point 9.1 states the same thing almost verbatim, and these further passages add to a picture of varying levels that were seen as higher in areas closer to the cylinders:

"8.18 The analysis results (Annex 5) of the samples taken by the FFM from the cylinders and their proximity to other sampled points exposed to reactive chlorine at both locations, show higher levels of chloride in addition to the presence of chlorinated organic compounds." (meaning: they didn't necessarily compare with unaffected areas nearby, but did find variations within the contaminated zone?)

Paragraph 8.33 relates the FFM's sampling the slat of wood found "damp and softened" under the cylinder at location 4. "The laboratory analysis showed that the wood sample had the highest content of chlorinated organic compounds of all wood samples taken." (suggesting various levels were recorded, and this was the highest).

These previously read to me as reasonable and probably true. But now they stand challenged, or at least that's how I read the implications here.

The published levels
(added Dec. 12) Here's an example of reported levels: OPCW FFM report S/1636 on the 25 March, 2017 chlorine attack provides, on page 26, found levels for various chemicals in parts per
million (ppm), including "Cl-" = combined chlorinated compounds? Among the higher returns were:
- soil sample 09SLS with 2,469ppm
- soil sample 41SLS with 8,174ppm
- blanket 36SDS with 7,496ppm

We hear the same kind of results for Douma were withheld. As Karin Leukefeld put it "Although the report stresses the ‘levels’ of the chlorinated organic chemicals as a basis for its conclusions (para 2.6), it never mentions what those levels were — high, low, trace, sub-trace? Without providing data on the levels of these so-called ‘smoking-gun’ chemicals either for background or test samples, it is impossible to know if they were not simply due to background presence."

I accepted that until I got this indirect tip from supposed chemistry expert "Irridium Tea" taunting me that "Environmental residues, both organic and inorganic, make a rock solid case for chlorine gas. 13,000 ppm Cl-? 1100 ppm on a wall? That's not normal background." He was surprised to learn I wanted to know more, refused to give his source, and then muted me. But it was easy to find, and I should have found it sooner. Report s-1731-2019 includes a TABLE A5.1 detailing environmental findings.
Below are the six relevant entries by location (3 total), each item as described, then (Sample code - ref. no.) then the given levels for "chloride" and sometimes various metals (not sure why, but it's interesting)

Loc. 2:
Dry wipe of the cylinder thread (level 3)
(Sample code: 15WPS - 20180421190915)
chloride: 13,000 ppm (IC),
iron: 11 ppm (ICP-MS),
manganese: 36 ppm (ICP-MS),
zinc: 10,000 ppm (ICP-MS)

Dry wipe from kitchen wall above the oven (level 2)
chloride: 1,100 ppm (IC),
iron: 1.2 ppm (ICP-MS),
manganese: 0.4 ppm (ICP-MS),
zinc: 1.7 ppm (ICP-MS)

Location 4
Dry wipe from nozzle, front part next to thread
chloride: 15,000 ppm (IC),
iron: 390 ppm (ICP-MS),
manganese: 54 ppm (ICP-MS),
zinc: 4,700 ppm (ICP-MS)

Chips of paint from wall behind bed.
chloride: 2,600 ppm (IC),
zinc: 150 ppm (ICP-MS)

Gloves from stairs
chloride: 17,000, ppm (IC)
zinc: 1,500 ppm (ICP-MS)

Location 1 (medical point - visited on 1 May)
Concrete dust 5-13 on right hand side at wall
chloride: 830 ppm (IC)

(Note the similarity in high zinc levels between the cylinder nozzles and those gloves. Clearly they were used to handle the cylinder at location 4. Was that from when the valve was last opened or closed prior to the 25th?)

The highest return from 25-3 is 8,174 ppm - and it's not that big a fluke - the next highest had nearly 7,500 parts for every million. This sounds way higher than the ones "Alex" describes at Douma. But the FFM claims to have higher-yet returns from there, up to 13, 15, and 17,000 ppm (though all numbers are clearly rounded off).

Quick research says 10 ppm is considered to be “Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH). Odor threshold "reported to range widely from 0.02 to 3.5 ppm." U.S. Occupational thresholds vary from 1ppm increasingly to a standard of 0.5 ppm. (USDA.gov). (This refers to chlorine itself, and notes: "There are no airborne Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) for exposures to the other chlorine containing compounds formed during water treatment and disinfection. In general the limit of 0.5 ppm has been used to monitor and evaluate exposures to all inorganic chlorine-containing chemicals.")

In Douma, it's said the levels of certain compounds, if not the combined total, was sometimes in the range of 1-2 ppb = 0.001 or 0.002 ppm, albeit many days after the events.  Let's say that's per-compounds, and there are, say, 22 compounds that could turn up, with a few zeros and 1-2ppb being a low end and an average of, say, 15ppb. If we multiply "let's say" numbers, we can get 15x22 = 330ppb combined chlorinated compounds. That translates to 0.330 ppm. That would be an extra-safe environment for a dishwasher working 8 hours a day.

330 might be quite a ways off the mark, but that could go either way: 22 compounds may be a high guess. So let's keep that. 17,000 ppm on those gloves seem to be special, so let's use the 15,000 and 13,000 ppm recorded at the two cylinder nozzles several days later. Comparing that to 0.33 gives a 39,000 - 45,000-fold  difference. That is an enormous discrepancy. There's no hope of correlating these claims by a simple difference in rounding off numbers, for example. Either the FFM made up these high numbers, or else this whistleblower and anyone who agree with him are somehow wrong on this subject.

Visually proven release?
However they don't stand alone; there are more questionable clues like the reported bleach-like smell, and then the visual clues for such release, which are harder to work around. These clues are why I credited the FFM's statements, and include at least these:

At location 2, a frosting cylinder from auto-refrigeration. The image at right tries to show this, with a blue arc marking what I think is the curved edge of the filled portion, where the metal will be cold from contact - it was getting close to empty, with only this much cold-boiling compressed liquid gas inside, dipping to just about the level of the nozzle, after which dripping liquid would cease and the rest would empty slower just through gas escape.

We also know a fire set below this cylinder, coating its underside and the ceiling with black soot. The reason for that is a matter of speculation: perhaps to release the gas (by melting out the soft-metal fusible plug), or to accelerate its release after it was opened in some other way, or as they say to try and detoxify the room of the gas. It could also be partly to obscure blast-related scorching, though I wouldn't expect much sign inside the room to begin with.

In a gas-free scenario, that fire would have less reason to exist, and the frost would have no reason.

The other cylinder found at location 4 was half empty but not leaking at the time of FFM's visit (meaning it was opened then closed - noted by Sander H) From report s-1731-2019(e), point 8.33: "From what the team observed, there did not appear to be any leakage from the cylinder at the time the team visited the location. … No chlorine gas was detected in the room by the detection equipment used by the team."

There's no sign of frost on here as the New York Times got a news Emmy, in part, for claiming (that's dust, and it's on the top instead of the bottom, and also over the whole bed and table, etc. - not just the metal in contact with the cold liquid), so it's probably not actively leaking at the time of any of these views. And no one tested the cylinder to see just what it held and might have released. But there is a chlorine-consistent shade of yellow-green visible - perhaps the actual gas or, I think, staining from its release - all across the bed and the wooden board, especially in the lower-lying areas. Below is a compilation of 3 images of this scene over time, and then yet another couple of views.

The top view is from the Bilal Abu Salah video, with yellow-green staining, and denser drips on pillow (seems to be previously under the valve) in a rich red-brown color. I was slow to learn that chlorine would shift over time in just such a manner, due to oxidation, contact with the steel, or whatever (a source to re-explain that was harder to find than I thought, but it's been seen before in Syria - brown drips below the nozzle of a leaking chlorine cylinder that's also frosted on its underside.)

The middle view is from Yaser al-Domani's video the following day, with a slightly wider area stained, but now showing dull orange-brown where it was a chlorine color.

Then more gas was released and fresh green staining was added prior to the Russian military's visit and video a few days later (bottom view), leaving the bed damp, heavy, and now collapsed, besides saturated with that color (here perhaps a dingier shade than in the top view, because this too is starting to turn brown?).

The OPCW's FFM visited even later, taking the image at right after the cylinder was rolled over, revealing the brown nastiness where it had been lying this whole time. There's the slat of wood they claim had the highest levels of chlorinated organic compounds.

They also noted in report: "The FFM team observed a viscous liquid throughout the room, which was not apparent in videos." They don't specify the color, but I bet it was reddish-brown. If so, it's also seen in small amounts right around the cylinder's valve, after someone re-capped it (or just wiped the dust off the cap's edge?): see damp brown areas below, then over time, see the metal rust and corrode and drip corrosion onto the bed, as if it were all exposed to chlorine gas and then water, which would cause hydrochloric acid to form (views: an early one, Russia 1, FFM view at bottom). Note the valve stem at the top that sticks out more in the bottom FFM view. It's getting turned, which probably means opened, then screwed back in to differing degrees (but probably to the point of being closed in all cases).

The FFM also noted "The same liquid was observed also before the entrance to the apartment and on disposable gloves present at the location." In the report's annex 5, the gloves are tagged 19SDS-L4, and it says they were found to contain: Dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid (chlorinated compounds), 1-methyl-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (TNT, explosive), amino dinitrotoluene (a TNT precursor) and Permethrin, a pesticide. What an odd palette. Maybe the cylinder was carried by gloved hands from a chemical factory where explosives and pesticides are made?


If levels were higher near the cylinders, as FFM reports, this suggests they are the source for any local increase - meaning they released at least some of their contents. But if those samples only had relevant compounds in the 1-2 ppb range, as an internal message is suggested as stating, how did they manage such a minute leak, what was the lower-yet background level, and how did that get so unusually low?

Clearly, these info sets don't work well together - something doesn't add up. Either:
* the FFM lied to even get chlorine in the picture, and a number of coincidental explanations are needed for all the visual signs, or ...
* someone is confused, for example mistaking ppm (parts per million) for ppb, for example (that alone would make a thousand-fold difference), perhaps combining a few errors, exacerbated by the lack of peer review that comes with being suppressed) or ...
* it's possible someone is deliberately lying about the low levels. Do remember the OPCW's credibility is "under attack" and therefore they might launch a counter-attack, using tainted disinformation to damage their opponents by making them into misled and easily-steered morons. I don't suspect that's the case here, but I don't see ruling it out yet either.

Those visual clues are numerous and consistent. They don't become a pile of strange coincidences without a very good reason that I doubt we have, even now. So I have a hard time with the first option there. And I'm having a hard time with the other two as well. A little help here? Is there another reasonable option I didn't think of?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

M4000 Distraction, point 3: The Curved Rail

October 20, 2019

An in-progress article on Philip Watson's M4000 Distraction got entirely too bloated. Two compound points - 2 and 3 - having sub-sections to detail a cluster of related bad thinking, so they require their own posts. Point 1 on binary sarin and the M4000 also deserves a post and, being its own issue as well, already got that over here. I'm not going to re-name that, but it serves as the split-off exploration behind what becomes point 1 in the M4000 Distraction's list of 13 points of issue. (and note not all 13 are negative - one is fairly positive and a couple are kind of neutral)

The final will include a link to here and a summary of the following under point 3. This dedicated space also allows for any rebuttal or revisions, etc. that I can also consider for the summary.

3) The curved rail
3a The 45° angle "claim" ...
This is another rather stupid point as he should realize by now, but Watson just said he plans to include this point again in his part 4 "Lataminah: Rails, Caps and the M4000" where he'll argue about five things not lining up, be wrong about 4 and the other is of no importance (prediction). But I'm not entirely sure he will plow ahead with this running claim: Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins is a fool for "claiming a 45° angle" in a rail of metal "became a 90° curvature after an impact" in this scrap linked to the Latanmah incident. (tweet) An archived copy below (prior account). 

I don't think Higgins ever did answer, which might leave it seeming like a great question. And as Watson notes, this "rail" is not included in Forensic Architecture modeling for Bellingcat (an issue discussed below), so one would have to visualize the issue on their own. Watson did it very poorly.

As far as I can see, Higgins and/or a graphics assembler at Bellingcat "claimed" the angle became a curve with a box drawn on a graphic. As I'll explain, this never did indicate a straight or angled object. No one ever "said" that in any form. Watson misread a graphic as saying this, and nothing more. He presumed the diagram meant to indicate a long beam along the bottom including the marked bend (roughly in the bent green box in my graphic). But logically, they meant to indicate a circular member (yellow box) that's only indicated at its end (because there its thickness or cross-section is drawn in?). Below, right, a crude drawing tries to over-illustrate the point. See also a 3-D modeled view below.

In case anyone still wonders, it also makes no sense to have a bolted seam along the underside of the chemical tank. That should be welded sealed at all points.

Bellingcat had always described the thing better than that graphic showed it; "metal supports run the circumference of the bomb casing [not the length of it - ed], and one of these metal supports was recovered at Al-Lataminah," shown as the partly circular item in question. He probably saw that, and just dismissed as not their REAL claim, which he already confused himself into ferreting out. Furthermore, researcher Michael Kobs brought it up right away when the issue was first raised in 2018: "This piece is meant to be a ring of the 1.44m circumference..." But Watson rejected that as NOT Higgins' claim or meaning, so not relevant. Then I mentioned it again after seeing this bad reading still used a good clue in his new project. That was almost a year later, but I quoted that "circumference" part as a refresher. He replied "I've no idea of your point Adam, sorry." tweet).
3b ...that trumps all other claims...
When I asked Watson if anyone had tried to explain this before, he acknowledged "They have said it was many things. First Higgins claimed it was a "cross section" to connect the payload body to nose cone. Then Robert Trafford of Forensic Architecture rubbish that saying it was a connecting brace for tail fin. Now it's something else." I'm not sure what "else" it was now, but the prior 2 things are actually, as far as I can tell, two of 3 things it could be, if it's even part of this bomb:

1) the circular band connecting the nose assembly (the square-ish gray shape inside the red indicated corner is a cross-section of that band.) Said to be Higgins claim.

2) the same thing but at the back of the payload tank, attaching the tail assembly, as modeled to pretty convincing effect, IMO. Said to be FA/Trafford view, also shown in Bellingcat graphic

3) and this is intriguing - it could be the middle ring that's meant to hold the dividing plate when one is using the M4000 in its designed, binary mode. I imagine it goes in the slot formed by the ring's unusual shape, as I show here with a red line.

That's not very many things really, when we recall that the 4th "claim" of the bent rail that trumps them all is totally imagined. I consider all three of these possible, and would even add a 4th category for other (but not a bent rail - let's keep at it no one claiming this ever). Watson might find that self-contradictory to consider 4 options, considering how he took options 1 and 2 as exclusive and contradictory answers from a regime-change camp in total disarray.

Back to option 3. If the bomb is re-purposed for unitary fill, be it chemical or conventional explosives, I reason, this divider can also be skipped and its anchoring ring ignored (just like the mixing arm, and whichever of the two fill ports is less convenient). I've been going over this with Michael Kobs, who favors that view, and has leads on the shape of the object seen suggesting it's this middle ring, not one from either end. (so via Kobs or however, that might be the "something else" it's been called). I like where he's is going, and he has a good record. I plan to catch up on that soon.

I had some further thoughts premised on no broken bolts or none torn free. Then I noticed (with the FFM's help) some holes are bit distorted, 3 seem to have broken bolts inside. S/2017/931, Note by the (OPCW) Technical Secretariat, 6 Nov. 2017 (PDF):
"12SDS is similar to a metal rail, approximately 550 mm long, with a square shaped cross section.  It is heavily corroded with eight equally distributed holes visible on one side and traces of grey colour.  Some of the holes still contain broken bolts inside." Indeed, the 3 inside the curve are intact. Such weak bolts (are they even metal?) could be why we see none tearing of the rail.

The two end rings have to be bolted to the nose and tail assemblies for the thing to fall right, or even look right. The middle ring may stay bolt-free if it's in unitary mode and no plate needs held. But that's not certain, and those are the thoughts going forward, where I so far hold any 3 of those is possible, besides for good measure "other."
3c ...and better explains the straight part anyway...
Forensic Architecture responded to Watson's approach about this curved rail they didn't model. One of them even made special slides to illustrate the point for him. One shows how the ring (outlined in light orange) would attach at the back end, which he uses as a banner on his "deception" articles, and which I show below.

He took the images with thanks but contested the assessment; "that piece of metal shows no signs of having ever been the circular shape FA were suggesting it was." Except of course for now, when there's that "almost perfect 90° curvature" he found so laughable, since previously it was straight. Or actually it was straight-ish, but with kind of wiggly edges he maybe didn't notice (below: the green lines are straight and the red ones aren't).
Helpfully, Watson reminds the reader: "a circle has no straight edges," while this piece does have a (fairly) straight section, and he thinks it was that way to begin with; "Had this piece originally been circular then you would expect to see signs of stress on the metal as it was forcibly reshaped." He saw none in a detailed photo from a certain angle, but we can also see it's not really straight (but then the curve isn't really perfect either). And if it had originally been straight but got drastically curved, wouldn't that leave stress marks?
Well, I'm no expert, but maybe stress marks just aren't always that obvious. Or maybe he proposes this was originally a mixed "J" shape like that, for use on something unidentified, and just got mildly warped all around? It's not clear where he intended to go with that.

They also show this alternate view of ostensibly the same item from another angle that really looks different. I don't see just how this correlates with the other views, but 12 SDS is said to be just one piece, not 2 similar ones, and this is a view of it, and it's got the same look at the held, curved end, so … I guess this is his perfectly straight original stretch after all, and it really makes my point about this not being the original shape.

Philip Watson has been informed of his confusion several times, but refuses to heed, and continues to paint this bend-to-curve "claim" as the official and only one from the regime-blame camp that matters. As luck would have it, it's the one reading that's flat ridiculous, and he gets to have an extended giggle-fest over it. They lie very illogically, or so Watson has himself convinced. Or so he just has his reader convinced? Anyone?

3d … and that keeps being "improved on."
Watson expanded on the theme, tweeting "When Eliot Higgins goes full Monty Python" you might see him claiming three such long bent rails ran end-to-end down the bomb's length, each one 550mm long, in a bomb that's only 1470mm in total length. He concludes: "When Eliot meets mathematics it's the mathematics that's wrong." (and that might be worded better.)

But considering my reading above, it seems Higgins was highlighting the three rings (again, one at each end and one around the middle of the central tank), each one indicated with a box of pink dots at the top AND the bottom (so 3 dot-boxes along the top and 3 along the bottom) with each vertical pair indicating one of three "straps used to hold the bomb together." To illustrate, he shows what I'm pretty sure is a different kind of item in the Khan Sheikhoun crater, a thin "strap" I'd say with empty bolt-holes in it (see 35:25 in this video)

Watson saw .... whatever, exactly. But it seems Higgins referred to the 3 support rings, each of which would have a circumference even greater - about 1446mm. What we see in 12 SDS is less than half a ring. Now 3 of these, all straightened back out, would make 4,337mm of railing! How could that all fit in a bomb 1/3 that length in total? Well, it could fit in a 3-D manner that it helps to be able to grasp.

For the aspiring researchers out there, there's a valuable lesson here. If you keep finding clues every ten minutes that no one else has ever run with, and you find your opponents making such patently absurd statements … it's worth pausing to check if YOU'RE not the one who's confused, before you proceed to try running a race with both feet in your mouth.

M4000 Distraction, point 2: The Blown-Off Tail Section

October 19, 2019

An in-progress article on "Philip Watson's M4000 Distraction" got entirely too bloated trying to include an entire 13 points in detail on one page. The compound points 2 and 3 deserving their own posts, this one especially due to ramblings that seemed too informative to delete. Point 1 on binary sarin and the M4000 also deserves its own post and, being its own issue with other peoples' confusion also involved, it already got that over here.

The final M4000 distraction overview will include a link to here and a summary of the following under point 2. This dedicated space also allows for any rebuttal or revisions, etc. that I can also consider for the summary.

2 The blown-off tail section ...
2a … that's not blown off
In his recent part 3, Watson considers the second M4000 Bellingcat located in a 2014 video. He describes it as "a more retarded (distorted) version with blown off tail section" that was "blown off in, what seems to be, perfect fashion." (that might hold a clue to the nature of any optical error at work here - he doesn't explain the details of his decision, either verbally or visually, except that perfection note - does he see a hacksaw cut but is soft-pedaling it for now?).

To me, that's just baffling. As I'll re-show, the back end is entirely there, minus the ring around the tailfins that are now flattened so the thing looks like fat metal cuttlefish. I showed this to him in a discussion on October 7, with that note to help spur a review. He just slapped the same image back laughing that I was mad to see a tail section there and promising to end the discussion on this note (tweet). I asked him to clarify what he saw instead, but he repeated he was out of time either because the discussion "is degenerating swiftly" (his tweet) or, as I proposed "you don't have time to explain what that image shows. Ok." With that and some more closing provocation on my part (bit 1, bit 2, both to be illustrated in the course of this project), he proceeded to block me.

Well gosh, he should be correct as all hell to take such a firm stand, right?

To be fair, I didn't draw on there what area I meant, as I do in the image below, but it should be evident enough, filling the whole frame he tried to ridicule me with.
I ask all readers, likely including him, what else can be specified as filling that white outlined space with a shadow beneath it? I think probably 98% of humans would recognize it as an extension of the same object, and probably some higher mammals could do the same. Lower invertebrates - aside from maybe cuttlefish - would probably lodge no recognition.

I guess Watson thinks this is a hacksawed part of the middle of the bomb, and the tail should be further out if it were there. But all the parts of that tail except the support ring are in there. The possibly telling shape of the distorted fins in there were first noted (that I know of) by Amin251, who partly traced them in red dots, a good method (cropped image at right. This tries to show (starting at image center and reading to the left) the curled top edge and, then the curving back edge of the one fin holding up all that rope, AND the straight-seeming edge of another fin in shadow below that.

However a problem I was late to notice - Amin's line jumps early (at the sharp angle on the left). The first fin continues further 'til it's invisible under the rope, and the next one starts back there as well. There's a smudge of dirt on the lens here, blurring the view, but we can still see the rusty plane of the lower fin continuing into that corner, if we look close. Add: if we look even closer, the first curving line of dots could run another 2 dots or so to the left, but the second line starts in the right spot. I misread a piece of pavement as the rest of that fin.

Amin humbly suggested the curves traced there might be the same seen in 2013, and I wound up agreeing, as explained in more detail here. (that small error has no bearing on the match) So for what it's worth, this second M4000 from 2014 was actually seen 8 months earlier, and just remained half-buried for the time between. This is a find of some interest we come back to below.

Philip Watson may not even see these details, let alone agree on how to read them. But to his credit, he turns a disadvantage around, and uses that blindness to inform and expand his analysis...

2b ... that was blown-off with a tail impact fuze?
"[T]he video of the M4000 with missing tail section," Watson explained, is exactly the mystery that "made me ask the question if the Syrian military had added a tail fuse to the munition as part of its ‘repurposing’? That would certainly explain the missing tail section." This refers to an impact fuze/fuse (both spellings are used), basically the "button" meant to be pushed on impact, to trigger the detonation of explosives, or whatever that weapon does. And Watson pointed to a certain Russian-made bomb (shown, named as "FAB 250 (M54 variant)." I found the photo at uxoinfo.com (as shown here, a little ways below), with no attached info I found on the model or location. But it had a protrusion in the back Watson decided was an "impact fuse" on the tail. It's probably not the only one in the world with such an attachment, so...

"That discovery had got me thinking how much like the schematic design of the M4000 this part of the bomb looked like," Watson explains, referring to what I call a "spindle" sticking out between the tail fins (red box here). That seems to be linked to the mixing arm inside, for breaking the dividing wall and mixing the binary precursors. The Russian bomb he shows has a similar cylindrical object in the same spot. It seems to have a fatter shape, and it should have a different purpose, as OFAB are regular high explosive bombs with nothing inside that needs mixing.

"Then when I saw the video from Bellingcat," Watson continues, "I thought the idea of a tail fuse being added, in place of the mixing arm, to be a plausible concept." He seems to propose an impact fuze on the back (in case it landed tail-first?), and he suspects that's what blew off the back end. Well …

Initially I thought this claim was ludicrous. In general, as the Wikipedia article explains it, a contact fuze - which includes impact and inertia types - is "placed in the nose of a bomb or shell so that it will detonate on contact with a hard surface." No other placements are mentioned, and general bomb design is to fall nose first, always if possible.

Per Wikipedia, an inertia fuze is a variation of the same usual kind that's more sensitive, useful if the impact is too indirect for a conventional device. Maybe it just senses the sudden stop the whole bomb would "feel." Watson concluded the visible nosecone fuze on the 2013 example was an "inertia fuse," with no basis I know of. But it could be. The schematics show a zig-zag wire, perhaps a real thing we don't see on the field examples? Making this a proximity fuze maybe? That uses radar-like signals to sense when it's close to impact. A sarin bomb should have one.

Usually, as the Wikipedia entry suggests, neither kind nor any kind is put on the tail end of the bomb, although logically an inertia fuze might work there.But after some digging I learned something new: Russia's FAB-250 class bombs are described as having "a massive warhead without a fuse socket." (Global Security), and the shown example seems to fit that bill, with just an aerodynamic metal battering ram of a nosecone and no kind of push-able button sticking out of it. And there must be a fuze on there somewhere...

The following does ramble a bit, but goes to say he might be right on calling that a tail fuze, and such a thing might be used wherever, including on re-purposed M4000s in Syria.

On Watson's example model: As this page on FAB-250 explains, the M numbers refer to the basic design or model, while the 250, 150, 500, etc. clearly refer to weight. That helps correlate a chart someone shared here showing different FAB bombs, some with visible fuzes in the nosecone and some without There's an FAB-250 M46 variant shown, that has different structural details (more fins, etc.) but the same plain round nosecone. There may be an inertia fuze in the back, though neither it nor the others has such a thing drawn in at the back. (Two other 250s are shown, labeled with no M number - the plain-old FAB-250 has a nose similar to the M46 and the longer OFAB-250 has a flat nose with an apparent fuze sticking out).

The M54 model at 250 size isn't included in that chart, but an M54 style in the larger FAB-500 size is shown. That has better structural matches to the photo, suggesting M54 is the right style, except it has a nosecone fuze. Other variances: a different kind of ridge behind the nosecone, and 4 fins vs. 6, it seems. Maybe M54 in the 250 size just has those differences. Moving on …

There's nothing else I can think of with my limited knowledge to explain the protrusions we see on the OFAB-250 M54. Possibly some radio guidance transmitter device? I don't see any moving parts on there (fins mainly, to adjust the fall) that could be remotely controlled = no reason to talk to the bomb once it's dropped. So as far as I know, there's nothing else that could be but the speculated tail-end fuze, presumably of the inertia type. But for the M4000, April 2013 case, with the slender object as shown above, I propose the regular designed spindle of the mixing arm.

This was to Watson "only a theory I’m positing," but it might transform to gospel and play into the conclusion that follows; "What the Higgins found videos tell us is that if these munitions are M4000’s then they had indeed been repurposed in 2013 and were being used as conventional weapons." That might well be, but only two points are mentioned to support that view:

1) the very presence of the bomb at a time (2013) when Syria claimed it was dropping M4000 re-purposed for conventional explosives (and that's a good point)

2) the dwelt-on "tail fuse" and "missing tail" nonsense, which seems even more central to showing his point. It should be, as it's all about the visual evidence and - as it turns out - his ridiculously poor comprehension of it.

As noted, the mixing arm built into the M4000 is inconvenient for Watson's argument the M4000 cannot be used with binary precursors; this device has no other known purpose than to "mix" once-divided precursors. But he might have found a way to erase that problem, if it could be "proven" (hypothesized and then quickly and firmly believed) that another object had filled the "spindle's" spot - especially if it were an impact fuze that would also require a tube of explosive packing to replace the whole mixing arm assembly inside. That would really prove it can't deliver sarin. And the idea he liked was that this device was added "in place of the mixing arm."

So the notion of a tail fuze isn't that implausible, but the whole reason to suspect one was his strangely failing to see something that's really pretty obvious. Puzzling then how he got to the question, but he may be convincing himself right now that this was done, the mixing arm was nixed and the proof of it is that perfectly blown-off tail assembly.

2c The missing tail found, in the year 2013?
Finally, I just confused things when I brought up my recent sighting of the same unit - its supposedly missing tail end anyway - as seen after the supposed bomb drop, on or before 15 July, 2013 - or so I think, and with good reason.

But it was buried so only the tail is visible, and that was bound to confuse the poor guy. As I recall Watson was giggling at my supposed theory they buried the back half here and the front half somewhere else - I guess since he's so certain the two were disconnected he couldn't even fathom that I honestly disagreed with that. In fact he picked this as a strong point to close the discussion with. Another tweet, sorry, that's worth citing:

"Oh I see! So the opposition buried the M4000 body and the tail section, separately, for 8 months hence why it's full of, what you claim, is "dirt"? And whilst arguing you found the rear section you're also arguing it's still on the M400? I'm going to leave it there."

But he also denied that was the back end of any M4000 I had found, on account of the "spindle" (or impact fuze?) looking different (tweet). Somewhere he claimed (tweet deleted) the difference was the early view has a tail fuze attached just like the Russian bomb did, as it were "in place of the mixing arm."

It does look different, comparing the above and below images at right: the detailed tip with a flat-sided bolt seen at the end may be part of the design (unclear from the other example at top). But the lower example looks more bulky, and not just from being off its axis, which it also seems to be. This could be another device swapped in, or just some kind of sleeve bolted over the mixing arm (and it's not off-axis, just loose?) on a unit where that wasn't to be used. Maybe a protective cover most of them have prior to use? That would make the other example the odd one out for missing it.

Well, whatever that is, it seems to be part of the unit Watson already called a probable M4000. As shown above, the fins on that have broken free of the support ring in the same way and display perhaps the same exact bending and curling as the ones seen here more clearly … and as I show below, that wrinkled-edge square-cut hole into the payload tank (main body) is the exact same hole cut into the same part of the same intact 2014 example he already called M4000 (below, cropped images rotated to the same angle and compared). So this clear tail end of - apparently - an M4000 seems to exactly what was inside that white outline above, as it was seen about 8 months earlier.
Watson was proud of being on such a "different level" (as I first put it) from me, Amin, and most others so far who've seen this and lodged a view. As I recall, he protested the 2013 tail section was not M4000 because it had an "impact fuse" instead of the mixing arm spindle, just like the Russian bomb. Of course, he had just been proposing the same thing (a fuze put in the tail of a M4000) as an intriguing lead, so … why pass up a spotting of just that? (I asked here: not the same "Because it has an 'impact fuze' swapped on? "I thought the idea of a tail fuse being added, in place of the mixing arm, to be a plausible concept." Briefly?" - he never answered) Well, it seems he wanted this device to be proven by the blown-off back end. If so, maybe he just didn't want to see it sitting there in the middle of the still-attached back end.

So he picked a course, and kept this unit divorced from itself, taking the separate burial invented reading as his strong point to "leave it there," with no need to venture any further towards, for example, basic visual comprehension.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

M4000 ID: Structural Questions

October 13, 2019
updates 10-14

As I've said a few times, I for one am not that inclined to doubt the Bellingcat identification of the scraps linked to the 2017 sarin attacks in Idlib province. There was almost surely no aerial attack to get the scraps there, so if the planted debris points to the binary sarin bomb M4000, I have no problem with that. I still wasn't ready to start doubting that ID just recently, but there was the issue of the wrong-sized caps that looked compelling. I just now finally took a careful look at that and I'm more prepared now to raise a serious doubt.

M4000 is still a very good overall match, very similar if not the same. And even these serious differences I'll explain could, as far as I know, be chalked up to differences between an inaccurate schematic picture (one of unknown purpose, after all) and the real thing. In fact out of caution if nothing else, I'm banking on that option. But then this might point to a wrong ID worth noting, or even to serious deception afoot. And so it seems worth explaining here.

One good point at least in Philip Watson's "M4000 the sarin Deception" ongoing investigation is in part 1 where he cites a point raised by German researcher Michael Kobs, who stands by the measure of the twin filler caps in the schematic as too small to match the scraps it was said to identify - not off by a debatable hair either - carefully going by the given length and its scale, the green caps as drawn in are only around 70mm - about 2/3 of the 105-107 mm Bellingcat claimed. (tweet) A smaller cropped version of that graphic is at right.105 mm per the given scale is measured out, and the cap that wide superimposed, to compare with the much smaller one shown on the schematic in green. In fact that cap would not quite fit between the shown suspension lug and the mid-tank dividing ring (the items just on and just left of the red lines here)

There's a distortion of some images making the bomb look longer than it should, but Kobs is sure this didn't affect his measure, which is proportional only to the length shown; the caps were simply too big compared to the bomb itself in order to match.

There are other differences besides this same one apparent with the recently unveiled 2013 example - taken by Bellingcat as the first view of the M4000 in real life. I noticed researcher Qoppa999 had also shows how the caps on this are too large to match the schematic, besides the suspension lugs (marked in yellow) being spaced differently. Furthermore, the tailfins stick out a bit further than designed before the ring wraps around them, leaving that stub of a mixing arm (presumably) more visual than it should be. At least according to this drawing, the first-seen example of an M4000 raises some questions whether it even IS that.

Quick note: Qoppa used the stretched view, so the vertical proportions don't match (the video image has a "fatter" bomb than the drawing). But this doesn't effect proportional measures along the length. These caps are designed carefully to a specific gauge, I'm fairly sure. So we have a real discrepancy, and if the schematic is correct about the M4000's caps, then we're seeing something very similar but different.

Noting how Qoppa's size difference is about the same as Kobs', and noting the different lug placement, I wondered about the 2017 scrap with filler cap and attached suspension lug. How far apart were they? It's hard to read clearly, as the lug is on another plane, the metal having cracked and curled back. I tried estimating the distance it runs (thin red line trying to follow the curve) to the lug (dark red outline) or its axis (heavier red line). Then I tried to imagine that red thread pulled out straight and tight, being sure not to overdo its length. This surely underdoes it for a minimum distance to the lug (I'm still working on another method to better gauge that distance).

Putting that alongside Kob's comparison, and then adding Qoppa's, all at approximate scale, and tracing the minimum lug distance with a dark red box is well under the true distance that Qoppa marked - later and on another unit - in yellow. I suspect that lug is the same distance out on the yellow band, for a different design than shown.

Adding, again: I finished the other graphic - sort-of. I tried cutting different panes of the metal in GIMP2 and stretching them flatter so the cracks lined up. I didn't try reconstructing everything else, just the edges and basic proportions, I hope, between the rim of the cap and the base of the suspension lug.

Then I re-did that using a couple of different views.
That's all a bit imprecise but with some value, and makes a smart-looking image, I think. And I think it helps, as I place this literally on top of the prior comparison and trace an orange box up and it nearly lines up with Qoppa's yellow. And then I notice I included Qoppa's image a hair too large or actually shifted a hair to the right, so the lineup will be about perfect, actually.
Here are those proportions compared in a simplified image to clarify the difference. Again, both scales here are relative to the overall bomb, and the extra length Qoppa identified doesn't even play in.

I checked the 2014 example from Tishreen to see if it fits the pattern, but it's too distorted to tell. The caps seem to be same large size we've been seeing, but what looks like the mud-caked forward lug seems to be right next to or almost in the mud-caked cap. It might also be bent, broken, or missing, and the unit seems quite distorted there. It's not a good, clear example.

Back in context: the 105-107 mm Bellingcat had for the filling cap on the 2017 scraps seems to be about the right size, both for itself and for the 2013 example(s). The OPCW's investigators likewise measured 105mm. And the distance from the cap to the nearest suspension lug also seems to be the same between these field examples, and so these were probably made according to the same design. And that, again, is drastically different in spots from the M4000 as shown in the famous diagram.

That leaves us with these possibilities:
- It's the actual M4000 that's just truer than some crude diagram that might - for example - show an early design prototype, rather than the final form (I think an option on these lines is pretty likely)
- It's an unknown different or variant model (it seems possible that the Syrian military would produce two bomb so entirely similar)
- It's a forgery; this could in fact be someone's try at re-creating the M4000

The last option will tempting to many, so I'll urge caution; this may be nothing but a logical possibility worth listing. But some aspects to pursue include the 2013-14 examples with their sheet metal color that appear to have never been painted with the standard green primer, nor given any other markings. While I'm not sure how to assess the materials and welding as seen on the earlier examples, the craftsmanship might be crude. We could wonder with the 2014 example if the support ring on the tailfins popped off due to shoddy welding by Islamist impersonators.

If so, it seems they got the caps wrong, and anything we can't see could be done wrong or be missing. Its ability to actually carry out the M4000's apparent design to mix sarin precursors would pretty doubtful.

But then again I don't mean to make too much of this, and there are many unknowns. There are also differences between the 2013 examples (lack of damage suggesting no airdrop as alleged) and the 2017 case(s) (seeming extreme blast damage and perhaps years worth of weathering, and perhaps green paint that was lacking in the earlier cases), besides the apparent structural similarities. It's still not clear to me who was deploying (dropping or lobbing) these things. Therefore, it's best to just consider the options until there's enough clarity to decide, or at least to narrow it down.

Monday, October 7, 2019

M4000 Binary or Unitary?

October 7, 2019
(not very rough but incomplete, to be updated)
updates Oct. 13, 18

Open-source researcher Philip Watson, in the course of exposing a "M4000 deception" claims the chemical bomb linked to a deadly sarin attack in 2017 "is not designed to carry sarin, it’s a unitary bomb to be filled with the chemical agent and is not suitable for mixing binary precursors." And furthermore, "as Syria’s sarin is binary the M4000 is not suitable for its delivery." (The M4000 Deception part 2) Syria's declared and destroyed sarin stocks had used two precursors, held separately until mixing just prior to use (thus binary - two-part.). But he claims it's a unitary-only weapon by definition, if not by design, and therefore - basically - Syria was innocent for any release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun.

Watson has just now expanded on the theme greatly in The M4000 Deception part 3 where he states:
"Originally Eliot Higgins and, self-styled chemical weapons expert, Dan Kaszeta claimed the sarin was mixed before it was poured into the M4000. After realising how mad of an idea that was they have changed that to the sarin was mixed in a bomb on the ground before being loaded onto the jet. The problem with this theory is that the bomb in question was a bulk filled unit designed for a single active ingredient, not for mixing. This didn’t stop Higgins from changing the bomb from a unitary, bulk filled unit, to a binary unit just like that. As I have shown, all available evidence points to the M4000 being a unitary filled bomb – therefore sarin can not be mixed in it."
(emphasis mine) This assumed fact has not been established that I've seen, and all the evidence I'm seeing suggests it was designed to and very could be used to mix binary sarin.

Watson raises several related issues with prior claims on filling with pre-mixed sarin, filling facilities, in-flight mixing, obviously dubious claims of mobile mixing labs for chemical Scud missiles (probably on loan from Saddam Hussein). There's also a debatable assumption that any sarin Syria's government could field has to be binary. I'm not going to go into these issues at the moment and will focus just on the basic clues about design and logic. Can I see and agree why the M4000 should be ruled out as a delivery device for binary sarin, as Watson claims? As far as I can see, definitely not. Acknowledging the limits of my knowledge here, Watson's conclusion seems extremely unsound to me, and not a good basis on which to question the opposition's claims.

First, even if his case held up, it's unlikely to convince anyone who needs convincing. I don't think any other binary weapon has been linked to a CW incident in the 7+ years they've been alleged. Most cases don't specify the weapon very well, but the improvised "volcano" rocket used in the 2013 Ghouta attacks had one big space filled with pre-mixed government sarin, as so many people totally believe. I'm not so sure about the Al-Nusra-linked plastic grenades probably manufactured for them in Turkey and blamed for some sarin attacks by helicopter earlier in 2013, but they probably were undivided as well. Many accept it was all Syria's, would accept it was unitary. Expecting otherwise for this delivery device - the most normal, professional one yet alleged - would make one vulnerable to disappointment.

Secondly, Watson has failed to convince me this is a unitary weapon. I don't have a stake either way, as I don't think any aerial bomb was used in this false-flag event. I just want this background information to make sense like it should. The following breaks down my standing issues.

Image disagreement: variant vs. before-and-after
"The fact the schematic depicts the M4000 as unitary" is not a fact as far as I know, but in his part 3 Watson complains it "has now been ignored as Higgins moves away from the fixed and mobile mixing devices idea. Therefore, he needs the M4000 to be a binary munition to replace the loss of his previous theories." Or, regardless of previous theories, he thinks it's a binary weapon. Watson takes issue with Higgins deciding the schematics show two binary weapons in different states, but that might be correct.

I'm not yet certain who's right here, and on what basis they made their call. But as I'll explain, the Higgins-Bellingcat view makes more sense and seems much better founded. To start, here's the disagreement in visual form.

So to summarize, the disagreement is between these two views of what's shown:
* The binary MYM6000 before mixing, then after mixing, and the binary M4000 shown only after mixing, with its pre-mixing view simply never shared. (Bellingcat view)
* A "binary variant" and "unitary variant" for the MYM6000, and a "unitary variant" only for the M4000, with its one unitary kind of fill.

I asked Watson if there's a "unitary variant" was there a binary non-variant or main version of the M4000, and if so how did he decide which was used. He explained to me he meant simply "Variant of aerial chemical munition" where - by his other words, it seems there is no other variant or type. It could have better said "M4000 unitary weapon" by definition, as that's what he claims.

Binary weapon parts are included 
Watson did not get the labels translated before launching into his analysis ( "As I don’t speak Arabic I am unaware of what is being claimed in the text apart from maybe labeling the different parts of the images." M4000 Deception part 1..." ). That was up to Amin25111's later transcription at, I think, Qoppa999's request. That work (compiled below) includes a "mixing arm" at the rear, besides the previously noted dual filling ports. Why a unitary agent would need two holes to get inside remains unclear, and just why a mixing is needed to mix that singular stuff with itself is also unclear.
On the MYM6000 bomb, Amin also sees the central diaphragm (middle of 3 rings along the main body's length) is also labeled for a wall or barrier (as shown), and the M4000 has the same, as highlighted below. In fact this member's profile has an unusual L shape as drawn, suggesting some special use besides structural support. Drawing a barrier in with a red line makes total sense, doesn't it?

This would put the barrier in between the two fill ports, allowing a separation into two fillable compartments one could fill with two precursors. And that might be why a "mixing arm" comes in? Watson saw no reason for one and considered it as useless as the nipples they put on the male bombs for no reason. A little puzzling why they would bother, since this is for a sure a unitary bomb...

The "paddle" or "mixer" is not labeled in the images, but it is apparently some kind of object probably with just that purpose - likely made of radial fins connected with an outer ring, similar to the tail assembly, but with spiked ends. It probably extends with a spiraling motion of the mixing arm it's connected to, reaches  the divider wall, perhaps made of mica, and crushes it apart, while also stirring the ingredients like a blender.

Is it not shown for the M4000 because it never had one, or because it wasn't thought to be relevant to that post-mixing view? It's also not shown on the MYM unitary/after view, which also lacks a fuze (the label there just says "ring" indicating the empty space it looks like). If the lack of this mixer indicates a "variant," does this unitary use of the weapon also, by design, lack a fuse so it can't detonate? No. Maybe it's missing from that post-impact view. So some missing parts in the drawings don't mean that much.

In general, all these parts built into the M4000 are consistent with binary design and are useless otherwise. Why override that to conclude those features have never been and can never be used and their inclusion amounts to nothing but a minor mystery?

Other supports are weak or unexplained
Watson cites known uses as a guide to understanding possible unknown uses: "Bellingcat attempting to create their own truths again. Syria held vast stocks of unitary sulphur mustard and the unitary munitions were for just that. The M4000 was used with sulphur mustard. It's a unitary bomb." (tweet) Well, some were re-purposed for conventional explosives use - reports cited by Bellingcat, and 2013-14 finds were presumed as examples. So do we conclude it's strictly an explosive bomb because it was used that way? No, because we also have the reports of them filled with sulfur mustard. But since we don't have reports of them ever being filled with or meaning to be filled with binary sarin, that means it's never happened or is even impossible? Even when everything we can see about the design suggests that IS the original intent of this weapon?

Watson wasn't able to make much of case of his own here, but was able to cite two  presumably well-versed experts from both sides of the Assad-blame issue assuring us the M4000 is only used for bulk-fill materials.  The skeptical former weapons inspector Scott Ritter said so (tweet) as did  regime-change activist and Bellingcat ally Greg Koblentz (tweet).

That certainly sounds convincing in itself. But given the questions I have, I need more information. I asked both of them (Ritter, Koblentz) a few days ago and haven't gotten a response yet from either. As far as I know, both of them are confused. For example, maybe Koblenz saw the mixed fill and no wall in the schematic and let someone convince him it was never separate. Then maybe Ritter agreed with him, seeing an off-narrative point (it clashes with the view of his allies at Bellingcat) that was therefore presumably true, but he didn't go check and think it through.

But then maybe either or both of these men know something I don't to clarify why the M4000 is or can only be unitary, despite all the design features to the contrary.

Hoping there is some resolution to put here.
As of 10-13, not much to report. I started a discussion thread here that, with Qoppa's help, yielded some minor support to the view the M4000 and air bombs in general were not used much for sulfur mustard and maybe instead for sarin.

My start: "#Syria #M4000 bomb "used for sulfur mustard and NOT sarin" Why? What do we know?
@RealScottRitter says it's "bulk fill only—a Mustard bomb." By design? Exclusive use? Column Lynch cites 2 experiments to SEE IF it would work in M4000. Anything else? Not convinced yet."

@Qoppa999 adds a few tweets Oct 9 including:
"The claim it was "meant for sulfur mustard" seems to go back to Koblentz's tweet, "probably" indicating that this part, unlike the main statement, is just his own conclusion.
Any more evidence @PhilipWatson_?"
Koblents says M4000 is bulk-fill only, and expands that the bulk-fill weapons were probably used for sulfur mustard. That sounds a bit like Scott Ritter's likely source for his exact claim.

@Qoppa999: ""To study the stability" does not sound like regular testing but like experimenting with something not done before ....
That the M4000 was used for mustard is only Koblentz's inference/guess. Not from declaration."

It could well be true, but the problem is it could well be a confused assumption, and thus not a good basis to presume half the features of the M4000 were built with no evident purpose.

October 18 add: Watson raises the point, and it's worth considering, that mustard gas in the M4000 might be tested just to double-check its designed use. That's true, but these tests would even better explain something new (un-tested), and an unusual experiment adding new information makes more sense for the late declaration this came in. How much sense does it make to declare, basically: "oh by the way, we also took two of those sulfur mustard M4000 bombs and conducted a routine test to double-check that it works. Sorry we forgot to mention that before. But we destroyed those two... "
A Development: (tweet by me) "One of 2 experts on record as suggesting this bomb #M4000 was used for pre-mixed fill only, not for binary agents - @RealScottRitter admits he didn't really know that, it just seemed like that from the picture. Cool, I kind of suspected as much." Re-tweeting Ritter's tweet: "I have previously stated that the M4000 CW bomb was a unitary fill only. My observation was derived from this Russian-provided schematic, nothing more. I don’t have any informed insight into the technical characteristics of Syrian chemical weapons beyond what this diagram shows."

Well, he also added a "mustard bomb" part that didn't come from the Russians. Koblentz appears to be the most likely source for that detail. And I suspect he reached that guess from noting the M4000's "bulky" appearance and the known bits about sulfur mustard tests with thet weapon. It wouldn't be a terrible guess, considering. But it turns out it's probably wrong. I've asked him as well. noting the confusion he's caused, the clash with Bellingcat's reading, but no reply - he didn't notice or maybe he likes the confusion? ( First request, Oct. 3 - follow-up with image)

Philip Watson likes the confusion he's caused, and continues to use it as a plank for one his central arguments. October 9 tweet: "Take Koblentz at his word on this. "These designations match bombs declared by Syria to the OPCW." Tie the pieces together." Pieces given, with notes:
* "Aug 2016, Colum writes Syria was using the M4000 with mustard" (a bit, in tests)
* "Nov 2017 Koblentz notes M4000 use with mustard" (by design, raising questions...)
* "(Nov.) 2017 Schematic depicts bulk fill" (disputed, and features only useful w/binary application are also shown in the same images).
"Take Koblentz at his word on this" and use it to tie up a few other dubious readings to try and reach the truth about the M4000 - that's not a formula I would propose.