Riyadh, Saudi Arabi.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
There is a major mystery surrounding the death of Chris Cramer, 50, in Saudi Arabia, an employee of Kollsman Inc., a US subsidiary of Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd.
Authorities in the Sahara Makarim Hotel in the Saudi city of Tabuk claimed that on Friday Cramer, an American defense contractor from New Hampshire, probably fell from the third-story window in an apparent suicide, Fox News reported on Sunday.
However, family and friends say there is no way he committed suicide and he was likely murdered for interfering with a significant arms deal.
Cramer family attorney Noah Mandell told Fox News, “The problem was with the customer. The missile system was already sold to the Saudi company and they were complaining that it wasn’t working.”
“He was basically sent to see if he could prove that they were firing it incorrectly,” explained the lawyer, who added that there is suspicion that the Tow Missile system was sabotaged before Cramer arrived with a colleague to check it on January 8.
“When Chris showed up everything was inoperable,” said Mandell.
However, a representative for Kollsman told the American news network that everything had been working fine.
“Everything was operating and fully functional. Chris had even posted a video of one of the missile firings,” said spokesman Clark Friese.
But text messages sent to Cramer’s family tell a different story.
“We fired six missiles with one near miss,” he said in a message, according to the report. “Their M109s are old and full of problems.”
“Lol easy fix or gonna take some time,” his nephew replied.
“They want to check out firing some of the new tow 2A RF link aeros and some extended range tow. I’ll be shooting them till Thursday and if they like the performance of our stuff, we’re gonna get an order for a ton of upgrades,” Cramer texted back.
Cramer’s lawyer hypothesized that the Saudi company that bought the equipment may have wanted a problem so that they could request some of their money back.
Responding to the reports, Elbit Systems released a statement, saying, “We were notified by Kollsman, an Elbit Systems of America subsidiary, that their employee, Chris Cramer, has died on an international work assignment.”
“The circumstances of his death are under investigation by the US State Department. We have no further details at this stage and we are awaiting updates from the State Department to our US subsidiary.”
It added that “Mr. Cramer was employed by the company for 12 years.”
“We are not in a position to disclose further details regarding the project he was working on, but it involves a legacy Kollsman product that does not include any Israeli technologies,” said the statement.Globes contributed to this report.