Qaddafi Era Missiles Missing In Libya
Thousands of missiles are missing in Libya:
The U.S. has been unable to secure thousands of potentially dangerous shoulder-fired missiles known as “MANPADS” that were leftover from the Qaddafi regime in Libya, CBS News has learned.
]MANPADS stands for “Man-portable air-defense systems.” According to a well-placed source, hundreds of the missiles have been tracked as having gone to Al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Algeria-based Sunni Muslim terrorist group fighting for control in Mali.
“I would imagine they’re trying to get their hands on as many weapons such as MANPADS as they can,” says CBS News national security consultant Juan Zarate. “It’s a danger both to the military conflict underway in Mali and a real threat to civilian aircraft if, in fact, terrorists have their hands on these MANPADS.”
efore his overthrow and death in the fall of 2011, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was believed to have purchased 15,000-20,000 Soviet MANPADS. Concern over the whereabouts of the missiles – and the possibility that terrorists could buy them on the black market and even use them to shoot down American passenger jets – drove a U.S. effort to recover as many as possible. But only about 2,000 were accounted for prior to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on Benghazi, Libya, according to the source. He describes those working to locate the missiles as “beside themselves” and “frustrated.”
The program to recover MANPADS in Libya was funded by the U.S. and said to have been run by South African contractors. The contractors attempted to appeal to Libyans, many of them ex-Gaddafi loyalists, to turn over or destroy the MANPADS as a matter of patriotism and pride.
“We told them that ‘if planes start dropping out of the sky, it will trace back to you and you’ll have the international reputation for terrorism,'” says the source. “We offered them money, we tried talking them out of it … The only successes they had were in western Libya, the Tripoli area. In the eastern half toward Benghazi, they were getting nowhere.”
Recovering MANPADS that have left official state custody is “almost a ‘mission impossible’ task,” says Lincoln Bloomfield Junior, who led a program under the Bush Administration to recover the weapons worldwide.
In the case of Libya’s missing MANPADS, there was also concern they would get into the Syrian conflict. “Once they start getting sold on the black market, we can’t control them,” says one source.
Great something new to worry about.