This week the Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a London-based organization partly funded by the European Union, published a 200-page report that summarizes three years of work done by its field teams in Iraq. CAR experts were documenting the weapons Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) used on battlefields and how exactly it acquired them. In a story published by Wired, writer Brian Castner, a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer and veteran of the Iraq War, recounts his experience of following CAR field expert Damien Spleeters as he gathered evidence in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar.
CAR field research is about finding weapons and weapon components, documenting markings and tracing the weapons back to their country of origin and origin through tell-tale signs like particular shades of paint. Serial numbers allowed the group to confirm numerous cases in which weapons produced by EU members like Romania and Bulgaria, and purchased by the US and Saudi Arabia, ended up in the hands of IS.