Saudi Arabia has yet to release the body of a U.S. defense subcontractor who was working for Israel’s Elbit Systems when he died under mysterious circumstances after being sent to the country to help complete a weapons deal.
Christopher Cramer was working for Kollsman Inc., a firm that subcontracted for the Israeli defense electronics company, when he was found dead last month on the ground outside his third-floor hotel room in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.
“We received a message from Kollsman Inc., Elbit Systems’ subcontractor in America, saying its employee Chris Cramer passed away during a work trip,” said a spokesperson for Elbit Systems.
“The circumstances of his death are being investigated by the American State Department. We have no further details at this stage and we are waiting for the State Department to update our American subcontractor. Cramer worked for the company for 12 years. We cannot provide details on the project he was working on, but this is a Kollsman product, an American product with no Israeli technologies involved in its production.”
Cramer, 50, provided technical assistance for a demonstration and sale of a TOW anti-armor missile system as an employee of Kollsman Inc., Fox News reported over the weekend. Authorities in Saudi Arabia claim that Cramer committed suicide by jumping to his death from the third floor of a hotel – but the facts just don’t add up. His family does not believe he committed suicide; they say he was murdered because he appeared to be a threat to the lucrative arms deal that was in process.
Noah Mandell, the family attorney and a longtime friend of Cramer’s, 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,” Mandell said.
“He was basically sent to see if he could prove that they were firing it incorrectly.” Mandell added that he believes the company that purchased the equipment wanted the missiles to malfunction. “The point of sabotaging equipment is you get a customer who has to buy a new set, and you’ve still got the old equipment,” Mandell said.
A spokesperson for Kollsman Inc. said Cramer had even posted a video of one of the missile firings, showing that everything was operating and fully functional. Mandell received messages from Cramer on the night that he died, saying his life was in danger and asking his friend to contact the State Department.
“I’m at the Marakim Tabuk Hotel in Saudi,” he texted his roommate back in New Hampshire when he could not reach Mandell. “I think something bad is going to happen to me tonight. Please contact State Dept. ASAP. Bad things were said.”
Mandell missed three calls within eight minutes on his voice mail that night. Cramer may not have trusted his own employers as well; the company rushed to inform his family that his death was a suicide. Now Kollsman says it will wait for the outcome of the Saudi probe.
“The question is… Why was Chris calling his dog sitter and his lawyer in America instead of his own company? They sent him into hell and had no plan to get him back,” Mandell charged. More to the point, the delivery of Cramer’s body to the United States has been delayed and has still not arrived on U.S. soil. His family is waiting to be able to send it for an autopsy.
Under American law, it is up to the FBI to investigate the circumstances when an U.S. citizen dies overseas – but the FBI gets involved only “if they are invited to do so by the local authorities,” according to the State Department. “They don’t have the jurisdiction to go into a country and start an investigation. They have to be invited in,” an FBI official told The Daily Beast. “Our standard practice is to neither confirm nor deny FBI investigations.”