Weapons fired in Ferguson come from companies supplying Israel, Bahrain and Egypt

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
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Police in Ferguson, Missouri fire tear-gas at people protesting after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Police in Ferguson, Missouri fire tear-gas at people protesting after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

When tear-gas was first fired into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri at people angry at the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Palestinian activists sent out messages on Twitter giving people tips for how to deal with tear gas’ effects.

And there was another direct connection between events in Missouri and the West Bank, as Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti noted: the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson.

As Alexis Goldstein pointed out in YES! Magazine, the company’s name is Combined Tactical Systems (CTS). (The company name is Combined Systems Inc., but they market their products under the brand Combined Tactical Systems.)

Israeli and American flags used to fly at CTS' headquarters in Pennsylvania. (Photo: Adalah-NY)

Israeli and American flags used to fly at CTS’ headquarters in Pennsylvania. (Photo: Adalah-NY)

Headquartered in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, CTS’ owners boast that they are the “premiere less-lethal line in the industry today.”  But the tear-gas canisters they make, which are supplied to Egyptian, Bahraini and Israeli forces and bought with American funding, have killed unarmed protesters in Palestine and Bahrain. And now, the company’s weapons are being fired on protesters livid over the police shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teen hit six times by an officer named Darren Wilson. The tear-gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets fired on demonstrators, a symbol of the growing militarization of America’s police forces, have fed anger over Brown’s killing across the nation and has sparked an unprecedented debate over police militarization in the country.

Goldstein’s YES Magazine piece pointed to this tweet from a journalist reporting from Ferguson:

Other tweets show other CTS products being used:

The above picture of a tear-gas canister closely resembles this CTS product (the one in the middle):



Another arms company that supplied Ferguson police with tear gas–and to Israel, Bahrain and Egypt–is Defense Technology.

The CTS  and Defense Technology products–along with armored vehicles and high-powered rifles–being used on the streets of an American city shocked many people watching events unfold. But since the 1980s, American police departments have slowly begun equipping themselves with armaments more suited to war zones and mass uprisings than run-of-the-mill policing. The “wars” on drugs and terror have fueled this phenomenon.

Militarized policing’s impact has been most felt on poor black communities like Ferguson. And while the tear gas and rubber bullets being fired in Ferguson may be new–and bring to mind images of Palestine and Iraq–blacks in the U.S. have long suffered the brunt of police violence.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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17 Responses

  1. just
    August 19, 2014, 9:33 am

    “Militarized policing’s impact has been most felt on poor black communities like Ferguson. And while the tear gas and rubber bullets being fired in Ferguson may be new–and bring to mind images of Palestine and Iraq–blacks in the U.S. have long suffered the brunt of police violence.”

    Yes. Community policing seems a distant and forgotten idea in many areas of these United States. If we’re not at war, the surplus has to go somewhere else– to arm ‘rebels’ abroad and our own police here at home. ‘Use of force’ is out of control in many communities, ‘Stand your Ground’ stupid laws along with ready access to automatic and other lethal weapons, and distrust, racism, joblessness are all contributing to this debacle that we are witnessing.

    I’ve been watching these events, and it is not infrequently that I hear the words Occupation, insurgents, Palestine, etc.

    • JustJessetr
      August 19, 2014, 9:41 am

      I stand by the protesters in Ferguson. Military style policing was in full-effect here in NYC during the Zucatti Square protests.

      “And there was another direct connection between events in Missouri and the West Bank, as Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti noted: the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson.”

      Sorry, but that’s an *indirect* connection. He can’t blame Israel for any of this. And neither can you, Alex. So why the article?

      • eljay
        August 19, 2014, 10:52 am

        >> JustaJester: He can’t blame Israel for any of this. And neither can you, Alex.

        No-one is blaming Israel. The direct connections between Ferguson and the West Bank have to do with the tear gas itself and with the company supplying it, not with who is using it:
        – “When tear-gas was first fired into the streets of Ferguson … Palestinian activists sent out messages on Twitter giving people tips for how to deal with tear gas’ effects.”
        – ” … the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson.”

      • Cliff
        August 19, 2014, 11:10 am


        The only reason a Zionist like you ‘stands with’ the protestors in Ferguson, is because they aren’t fighting against Zionism.

        Palestinians experience far more brutality that African-Americans face in the US.

        And unlike the descendants of African-Americans, the Palestinians weren’t kidnapped from some other continent and shipped to the land they live on.

        They were driven off their homeland by terrorist Zionist Jews.

        So the only reason a terrorist-supporting, pro-Israel troll like you ‘stands with’ any kind of protest in Ferguson, is because those protestors aren’t in a battle with Zionism.

        If they were to link their struggle with Palestinian solidarity, you and the idiot brigade would immediately flip out and show your true colors (Blue/White on a hijacked Star of David).

      • LeaNder
        August 19, 2014, 11:59 am


        there is no doubt an “indirekt” connection. And many of us wondered if Israeli’s special expertise in both security and crowd control would one day be copied in “the West” generally. I didn’t Alex instead of as you claim blaiming Israel notice similarities only other people notice too?

        From the little I read about the Michael Brown incident the official police narrative has peculiar parallels to the Trayvon Martin case. The only difference is that there is a wannabe cop versus a real one with a tendency to overkill.

        I am in absolute agreement with Alex on this:
        The “wars” on drugs and terror have fueled this phenomenon. In fact it has been immediately on my mind while reading a couple of items and discussions on Pat Lang’s blog:

        here picking up on Max Blumenthal via Pat Lang

        and here another comment on the On the National Guard ordered to Ferguson.

        What I would like to add from my purely German perspective, I probably said this before, the moment you define a scapegoat, to complicate matters, a scapegoat that the WOT created to a much larger extend, the moment people seem to feel free to add their specific type of declared enemies. You create the atmosphere to sort out all type of “unwanteds”.

        And Israel may well not only be the present expert on security and crowd control but also the recognized expert on the “Arab mind”. That’s hard to ignore.

        Elly Bulkin/Donna Nevel: Islamophobia and Israel

        I better retun to IT forensics a much less political issue.

      • gracie fr
        August 19, 2014, 12:47 pm

        The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

  2. Marnie
    August 19, 2014, 9:43 am

    It seems its always people of color who suffer the worst of the brutality the police have to offer, shoot to kill first, obligatory investigation later with slap on the wrist or desk duty. It is an american tradition.

  3. Greta
    August 19, 2014, 10:02 am

    CTS is either owned by Israelis or by an Israeli company. Are you saying that you didn’t notice the Israeli flag flying alongside the American flag in your photo? It’s been picketed before. Here is just one report from Adalah in New York.


    • gracie fr
      August 19, 2014, 1:13 pm

      Proven Effective: Crowd Control Weapons in the Occupied Palestinian TerritoriesThe report focuses on three types of weapons as case studies: tear gas canisters, produced and marketed by Combined Systems (CSI) and M.R. Hunter; “the Scream”, manufactured by Electro-Optics Research & Development (EORD) and Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD); and “the Skunk”, manufactured by Odortec, with the supporting companies: MAN Group and Beit Alpha Technologies (B.A.T). The report highlights the harmful consequences of these weapons, including their potentially lethal effects. The occupied Palestinian territories are being used as a lab for testing new weapons for civil oppression on humans, in order to label them as “proven effective” for marketing abroad.

  4. RobertB
    August 19, 2014, 10:20 am

    Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth

    Submitted by Rania Khalek on Fri, 08/15/2014

    And it’s no coincidence.

    At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.”


  5. Nevada Ned
    August 19, 2014, 10:22 am

    Sociology prof James Loewen asks, “Was Ferguson a Sundown Town?”

    In a sundown town, blacks can visit during the day, but have to leave town by sundown.

    Check it out at the great website of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    August 19, 2014, 12:36 pm

    RE: “Weapons fired in Ferguson come from companies supplying Israel, Bahrain and Egypt”

    MY COMMENT: Pipe down everybody, it’s all quite kosher because these here defense contractors “pay to play”, and do so quite handsomely! The “payees”, of course, are our senators and congressmen. The “payor” defense contractors’ “play” is Uncle Sam’s “1033 Program”, which permits the Pentagon to give military hardware to local police departments only to then buy more equipment for itself! That’s a win (local police), win (Pentagon), win (defense contractors), win (senators & congressmen)! Ain’t it sweet?!?! Like shugah!

    SEE “Ferguson Police Militarization: Cash Flowed To Lawmakers Who Voted To ‘Militarize’ Police”, By David Sirota, IBTimes.com, August 15 2014

    [EXERPT] As local law enforcement has deployed martial tactics against those protesting the police killing of an 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, a debate is suddenly raging over how municipal police forces came to resemble military units. A new report suggests the trend may, in part, have to do with campaign contributions to congressional lawmakers.

    At issue is the federal government’s so-called 1033 Program, which permits the Pentagon to give military hardware to local police departments.

    In a June investigative report, the New York Times documented how that program, among others, has allowed police departments to “receive tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” Newsweek notes that the program originally started in 1990 as part of the so-called War on Drugs, the idea being “that if the U.S. wanted its police to act like drug warriors, it should equip them like warriors, which it has — to the tune of around $4.3 billion in equipment.”

    That represents potential profits for the defense contractors, because the program effectively creates a secondary market and additional demand for those contractors’ goods. The Pentagon can, for instance, pass equipment and ammunition to local police departments, only to then buy more equipment for itself. Meanwhile, those local police departments often spend money on parts and maintenance for the equipment, thereby providing another potential stream of money to the contractors. And once the department gets used to the surplus goods, there’s always the chance that the department itself becomes a direct buyer of those goods.

    The group’s new report looked at a June congressional vote on legislation, offered by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., that would have blocked the Pentagon from spending resources on transferring military hardware to local police agencies. The bill was defeated 62-355.

    According to data compiled by Maplight, the lawmakers “voting to continue funding the 1033 Program have received, on average, 73 percent more money from the defense industry than representatives voting to defund it.” In all, the average lawmaker voting against the bill received more than $50,000 in campaign donations from the defense industry in the last two years. The report also found that of the 59 lawmakers who received more than $100,000 from defense contractors in the last two years, only four voted for Grayson’s legislation.

    Though thought of as a political force primarily in federal policymaking, the defense industry also spends on state politics, which influences law enforcement procurement decisions. According to data compiled by the National Institute for Money in State Politics, more than $8 million of campaign contributions has been dumped into state elections in the last decade by military contractors and their employees. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.ibtimes.com/ferguson-police-militarization-cash-flowed-lawmakers-who-voted-militarize-police-1659804

    P.S. What’s that stench I smell, Denmark? No, I guess it’s just the cesspool runoff from Capitol Hill (originally Jenkins Hill).

    • DICKERSON3870
      August 19, 2014, 1:12 pm

      P.P.S. MO’ SHUGAH, MO’ SHUGAH, MO’ SHUGAH (AIN’T IT SWEET): “How We’re Footing the Bill for Violent Crackdowns on Dissent in the Middle East”, By Anna Lekas Miller, AlterNet, 4/17/12
      A global, for-profit system binds together US weapons companies, repressive governments in the Middle East and taxpayer money.

      [EXCERPT] . . . The nondescript warehouse-like buildings in rural Pennsylvania . . . are the headquarters of Combined Systems, Inc.—one of the largest manufacturers and international suppliers of teargas, stun grenades and other “non-lethal” crowd control devices in the world.

      Israel, or more accurately, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is their most frequent client. And Combined Systems’ relationship with the IDF is an emblem of a global system that binds together US weapons companies, repressive governments and taxpayer money.

      Here’s how this system generally works: a foreign government requests a certain amount of military assistance from the United States government. If the US government chooses to accept this request, Congress appropriates the amount into the budget, and once the budget is passed, the recipient can use the money to purchase weapons from US manufacturers. Israel is a case in point.

      The United States has given foreign aid to Israel since 1949. By 1962, this money was used to fund the purchase of US weaponry, forming the foundation of the relationship between the US government and Israeli military. Due to an Israeli economic crisis during the 1980s, military loans to Israel were eliminated and replaced with grants. In 2008, all economic aid was eliminated and replaced exclusively with military aid.

      Today, Israel receives about $3.1 billion annually from the United States in foreign military financing, or more simply, military aid. Since this form of foreign assistance is part of the congressional budget, this collective amount is financed entirely by the US taxpayer.

      Despite proposing drastic cuts to domestic programs, President Obama’s most recent budget proposal suggests increasing US military aid to Israel by $25 million. Aside from this increase, the Israeli government has recently requested an additional $700 million to construct more Iron Dome and Magic Wand missile and rocket defense batteries. . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.alternet.org/story/154997/how_we're_footing_the_bill_for_violent_crackdowns_on_dissent_in_the_middle_east

  7. gracie fr
    August 19, 2014, 12:49 pm

    The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq. Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

  8. concernedhuman
    August 19, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Combined Tactical Systems has a israeli flag flying ?
    Is it because of special “Special US-Israel ” relationship? Or Because Israel is a major client because israel uses Tear gas 365 days a year ?Has israeli government invested in it?!!
    Turkey used tear gas is it CTS that supplied to Turkey?

  9. ckg
    August 19, 2014, 8:43 pm

    A sure-to-be iconic photo from Ferguson yesterday: https://twitter.com/HalDockins/status/501551950304120832/photo/1

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