Some of the thousands of surface-to-air missiles that have gone missing since the collapse of the Gadhafi regime in Libya have now turned up just miles from the Israeli border.I doubt anyone will have a hard time working out the math on this one.
U.S. officials say there were 20,000 Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles in Libya before the uprising, and thousands have disappeared in the looting of Moammar Gadhafi's arm caches. According to the Washington Post, many of those Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons are being sold in Egyptian black markets, and so many are available the price has dropped from $10,000 to $4,000.
Egyptian officials told the paper they have intercepted looted Libyan weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, missiles and artillery, on the road from Libya into Egypt, in black markets on the Sinai Peninsula, and in the smuggling tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza.
The heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, most of them shoulder-fired, have a range of two miles and would pose a threat to Israeli helicopter and planes on either side of the Israel-Gaza border.
Though Libya had an estimated 20,000 man-portable surface-to-air missiles before the popular uprising began in February, Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro told ABC News in September the government does not have a clear picture of how many missiles they're trying to track down.
A spokesperson told ABC News that the State Department "commend[s] Egyptian authorities" for seizing the missiles and other arms.
"[W]e are seeking additional information from Egyptian authorities as their investigations continue," said Noel Clay. "Egypt is one of several nations in the region where we have held discussions about potential conventional weapons proliferation from Libya in recent months. It is clear that the Egyptian government shares our concerns about weapons smuggling."
"Preventing the proliferation of these weapons is of international concern," said Clay. "We are committed to working with the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC), Libya's neighbors, and the wider international community to build a coordinated approach to this shared security challenge."
Friday, October 14, 2011
Where are Muammar's missing missiles?
ABC News reports that many of Muammar Gadhafi's missing MANPADs have been found -- on the Gaza border: