CSI: Merchant of Death and Servant of Tyranny

The following information about CSI, the Pennsylvania-based tear gas manufacturer whose empty canisters have littered the streets of Egypt after being used against popular protests, was collected by Werner Lange:

“The severity has increased.  They are using a different type of gas which makes the patient go into convulsions and repeated vomiting”

-Dr. Osam Sadar, Field Clinic Doctor in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, talking about effects of CSI tear gas used on Egyptian protesters, Nov. 28, 2011

CSI Corporate Officers and Operations:

CSI (Combined Systems, Incorporated) was founded in 1981 by two Israelis, Jacob Kravel and Michael Brunn, who still function as its President and Vice President, respectively.  It was incorporated as a for-profit business on March 19, 1981 in the State of New York and has since been registered as a “foreign corporation” (i.e. out-of-state) to conduct business in Florida and Pennsylvania.  Its agent in Florida is SRT Supply, a major international weapons supply corporation, and its primary manufacturing facilities are located in a rural setting just outside of the small town of Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

Combined Systems (Israel) is the CSI subsidiary in Israel, which, on its corporate registration, lists Kravel and Brunn among its Directors along with their Israeli National ID.  CSI supplies its products to the Israeli army, police force, prison system and the Israeli Rafael Armament Development Authority.  CSI tear gas and high-velocity projectiles are routinely used by the Israeli army, occasionally with lethal effect, to disperse protesters against Israeli occupation and tyranny in the West Bank.

Combined Systems Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc.  10% or more of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc. is owned by Carlyle Mezzaine Partners, L.P. and 10% or more of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc. is owned by Point Lookout Capital Partners L.P. (PLCP). Managing Partners of Point Lookout, Michael Monteleone and James Cesare, are both members of an advisory board for F.N.B. Capital Corp. of Pittsburgh.  In 2005, PLCP acquired a majority interest in CSI with the Carlyle Group and in 2008 it acquired Penn Arms, a weapons manufacturer based in Punxsutawney, PA.

CTS (Combined Tactical Systems) is a branch of CSI which specializes in so-called “less lethal” munitions and tear gas used for “crowd and riot control”, whereas the military branch of CSI produces weaponry for military forces such as the high explosive FRAG-12 ammunition and the VENOM munitions systems.  According to a CTS brochure, “products manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems are less-lethal force options.  Less-lethal options are intended to cause varying degrees of pain and injury…In rare circumstances, less-lethal options may cause death or serious bodily injury.” Indeed.

CSI/CTS product fatalities:

1.Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah, 30, was killed on April 17 (2009) when struck in his chest by a CSI 40mm model 4431 powder barricade-penetrating tear gas canister fired by an IDF soldier during protest in the Palestinian village of Bil’in.

2. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 31, the sister of Bassem, was killed during another large protest in Bil’in against the Israeli apartheid wall on December 31 (2010).  Israeli soldiers shot scores of CSI tear gas canisters at the more than 1000 protesters unleashing large clouds of toxic CS gas into the air, one of which overcame Ms. Abu Rahmah , who collapsed and was taken to a Ramallah hospital for treatment.  She died from CS gas inhalation at 9am on January 1, 2011. Two manufacturers’ CS gas products were used, and one or both are responsible for Ms Abu Rahmah’s death.

3. A 32-year old photographer was killed in Tunisia after he was hit by a tear gas grenade at close range.

4. The Egyptian Health Ministry reported that seven people had died from asphyxiation caused by tear gas used against protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in November 2011.  The medicines used by field doctors to resuscitate earlier victims were ineffective at this time, suggesting a more lethal form of tear gas was being used against the demonstrators. The streets of Cairo (and other Egyptian cities) were littered with CTS 35/37mm CS smoke projectiles and canisters during these pro-democracy protests.  Non-governmental reports claim that at least two dozen persons were killed and hundreds more injured by this toxic gas in Egypt during November protests.

Ten Recent CSI Munitions Shipments to Tyrannies outside the USA:

 

 

Destination Date Purchase Price Munitions/Weapons Supplied by CSI
1.Israel

Israel Police
Chief Weapons Officer
Israel Prison System

April, 2008 $5,000,000 50,000 cartridges (CS,Smoke,Baton)
50,000 Riot Control Grenades (CS)
25,000 Flash Bang Grenades
100,000 12-guage cartridges
$111,000 2,000 CS/OS Grenade cartridges
1,000 Rubber Ball CS Hand Grenade
1,000 Tactical Flash Bang Grenades
1,000 CS/OS Sting-Ball Grenades
1,000 Flash Bang Training
1,000 Super-Stock Bean Bags
note: during 2007-08, the US State Dept. authorized $1.85 million for “tear gas and riot control” to Israel; CSI is a primary provider of tear gas to the IDF.
Mubarak’s Egypt
Weapons and Ammunition Dept.
Cairo
7/2008 $650,100 21,000 CS Smoke Hand Grenades with Fuze
21,000 CS Smoke Long Range Cartridges
4,000 CS Window Penetrating Cartridges
SCAF Egypt 4/2011
8/2011
10/2011
unknown
unknown
unknown
21 tons of ammunition to Port of Suez
17.9 tons of ammunition to Port Said
21 tons of ammunition to Port Ababiya
note: Egyptian dock workers initially refused to unload the third supply of munitions from CSI to Egyptian military rulers. The US government gave Egypt $1.2 million in 2009 for tear gas purchases with the congressionally imposed provision that purchase must be made from the USA; in 2010 the tear gas grant came to $1.7 million.
Guatemala
Policia Nacional Civil
Guatemala City
    January 2010 $506,000 10,000 CS Grenade Canisters
5,000 Smoke Grenade Canisters
5,000 CS Long Range Cartridges
4,000 Flash Bang Cartridges
10,000 Launching Cartridges 
Argentina
Ministerio de Justicia
     January 2010 $312,265  10,000 CS Cartridges
7,100 CS Grenades
3,200 Aerosol Grenades 
India
Ministry of Defense
January 2010 $129,276  25,200 electric minidenonators
East Timor 
Policia Nacional Timor Leste  
January 2010   $13,080     5  40mm Grenade Launchers 
100  MK-4 Pepper Spray Canisters 
Thailand
Royal Thai Navy  
     Sept. 2008        $10,050       1,005 Hand Grenade Fuzes 
Trinidad & Tobago    May 2008  $5,022 4 Tactical Tear Gas Launchers
24 CN Gas Long Range Cartridges
24 CS Gas Long Range Cartridges
Hong Kong
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
January 2010  $3,700 4 Single Shot 37mm Grenade Launchers
40 Foam Baton Cartridges
40 Muzzle Blast Cartridges
40 Flameless Expulsion CS Grenades 

 Litigation against CSI: 

1.Following a June 2007 inspection by EPA, CSI was cited for RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) violations that occurred between Oct. 2004 and June 2007  involving hazardous waste stored at the Jamestown facility, including: operating a hazardous waste closed storage facility without a permit; failure to keep containers of hazardous waste closed during storage; failure to conduct weekly inspections of central hazardous waste management; failure to document hazardous waste management training programs; failure to keep records of weekly storage facility inspections; failure to provide a containment system for hazardous waste; offering hazardous waste to unpermitted treatment,storage or disposal facilities; and failure to offer universal waste only to another universal waste handler.  CSI agreed to pay a $65,000 penalty in January 2010 to settle these numerous environmental law violations.

 2.In 2007 a lawsuit was filed against CSI for personal injury and product liability.  The plaintiff, Nels Cooper Brannan, was a decorated former US Marine who claimed that a defective CSI flash bang grenade cost him his finger/thumb and hearing loss. 3.Though not yet filed, evidence suggests that CSI may be in violation of the Foreign Appropriations Act, which, since 2001, carried the stipulation that no US funds are to go to any unit of a foreign country if there are gross violations of human rights. Note: A fire broke out in one of the CSI plants in Jamestown on November 15, 2011.  Although there were no reported injuries, the blaze was too much for the sprinkler system to handle and it took some 14 area fire departments several hours to extinguish this flame.“There have been a couple fires at the plant in the last ten years or so, including at least one that prompted officials to evacuate neighbors in the area because of the noxious fumes” (Tom Davidson, The Sharon Herald, 11/16/2011). 

Profile of CSI President and Founder, Jacob Kravel: 

Born on Jan. 16 (1950), likely in Israel;  married to Anat Kravel who was born in 1954 in Kibbutz Ramot Menasha, Israel; they have three children (Ori, Rony and Etie). According to an article about their 2009 lavish wedding in Chagigah Magazine, Etie and his bride (Michal Kollneshner) “both were born in NYC to Israeli parents”.  In July 2011, Jacob and Ori Kravel purchased a two-bedroom condo in Lincoln Square for $1.3 million.  The main NYC residence of Jacob Kravel is a luxury condo in The Saratoga; he also has residences in Great Neck, NY and elsewhere.   In 1981, he and his boyhood friend, Michael Brunn, founded CSI which currently employs about 130 low-paid workers; runs two shifts five days per week; and puts out about one million products per year for military and police forces. Kravel is also either the Chairman or CEO of ERO Holding LLC , a substantial owner of Pyrotechnic Specialties, which was charged with fraud by the DOJ in 2008.  He also has business ties to Racoe Holding LLC; Aero Parts, Inc; Aerojet Inc.; and Arco Holding LLC.  Not surprisingly, Kravel is viciously anti-union as this testimonial of his for a union-busing firm reveals: “Blankenship & Associates helps me keep my company union-free, and I will continue to turn to them for advice on any labor employment law matter, regardless of whether the union is involved or not”.  Teamsters Local 241 is currently engaged in a union organizing effort at CSI.