Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Service members and their families are reacting to the stunning news released Tuesday that parts made by a Minnesota company were key components in explosive devices that killed and injured U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The company Digi International was duped into selling the parts to a distributor who lied about what they would beused for. The part is a radio frequency module which can beused to transmit data from as far away as 40 miles.
Digi shipped 6,000 of its radio modulators to a Singapore firm that lied about what they would beused for. Minnesota State Rep. John Kriesel’s legs were blown off in 2006 by an IED attack that killed two of his friends near Fallujah.
Kriesel said his sympathies lie with Digi International, who through no fault of their own had a role in the deaths of so many.
“I hope they don’t get a bad wrap out of this,” Kriesel said. “They were being duped. I am sure they look at it and feel bad that service members were being injured and killedusing that.”
In 2007, Sgt. Joshua Shmit of Wilmar was killed by an IED in Iraq.
On WCCO-TV’s Facebook page his mom, Kimberly, wrote “So the I.E.D. that ripped through and killed my boy had parts from his very own home state?? Wow, this world is seriously sick. This really breaks my heart further.”
Five individuals from Asia and Iran have been indicted in the elaborate scheme. The parts were shipped from the Minnesota Company to Singapore, then to Malaysia and Thailand, then to Iran where the bombs were assembled and then on to the front lines.
“If the nature of the wars we face now is a faceless enemy they just come up with whatever they can to attack us,” Kriesel said.
Digi International did release a statement on Wednesday about the matter, saying the company “Finds theuse of products for these purposes reprehensible.”
Digi International has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but an employee of a Massachusetts company whose parts also ended in IEDs has been cited as unindicted co-conspirator.