Gaddafi’s Missing Guns

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Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is currently not the only object of intense search in Libya. Large amounts of weapons are missing from his many abandoned, well-stocked arsenals, and no one knows where they have gone. But causing Western intelligence services nightmares, though, are the thousands of unaccounted for shoulder-held surface-to-air missiles (SAMS) that, in capable terrorist hands, could bring down civilian airliners.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch has travelled around Libya, visiting former Gaddafi armouries. He describes what he found as “shocking.” At one storage facility alone he found 100,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. To make matters worse, the site was unguarded.

“Qaddafi’s weapons stocks far exceeded what we saw in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; some of the weapons such as surface-to-air missiles now floating around eastern Libya are giving security officials sleepless nights,” said Bouckaert, who adds he is now getting “anxious” phone calls from these officials.

Documents discovered at one abandoned armoury show that 482 shoulder-held SAMS made up one Russian shipment alone to Libya in 2004 and are now nowhere to be found. These SAMs are a sophisticated Russian model, the SA-24, which have a range of 11,000 feet. This model was apparently the Soviet Union’s answer to the portable American Stinger missile that brought down so many Soviet helicopters and aircraft during the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The threat that these SA-24s pose to civilian air traffic is real. In 2002, two other Russian-made SAMS, albeit a different model, were fired at an Israeli passenger plane leaving Mombasa, Kenya; but both missiles fortunately missed their target. A Lebanese-based terrorist group, called the Army of Palestine, took responsibility for that attack. There are reports that some SA-24s have already been smuggled out of Libya by Iranian agents, based in Sudan, belonging to the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.

“The SA-24 is on the top wish list of Iran; the US tried to block its transfer from Russia to [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez because they were afraid it was going to get into Iranian hands a few years ago,” said Bouckaert.

It is estimated that Gaddafi spent more than $100 billion on arms during his 42-year rule. This accounts for why his forces seemed to have an unlimited supply of weapons and munitions despite the United Nations (UN) arms embargo placed on Libya. And it would also account for why his fighters are still able to continue resisting the rebel forces in their last strongholds of Sirte and Bani Walid. In contrast, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) warplanes were running out of bombs within weeks of NATO’s decision to intervene, a deficiency that America had to make good.

As for Libya’s future, the greatest danger is that the country is awash in guns. Gaddafi had arms issued to the general population, and even to criminals, in order to fight the insurgency. It is also going to be difficult for the country’s provisional ruling body, the National Transition Council (NTC), to disarm them and the numerous militias that fought Gaddafi’s forces, since they regard themselves as independent or semi-independent entities. The NTC has often been described as united in only one thing: deposing Gaddafi.

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  • Larry

    Don't be surprised when a significant number of those mines turn up in Gaza, along with the missing chemical warheads and loads. Warheads that happen to fit very nicely onto katyusha rockets.

  • Ben

    The western war against Lybia and support of Egypt revolution is the ridiculouse prolongation of American games with Bin Laden`s Islamists ,Israeli`s games with hamas.Though grave results of Islamist`s support are evident, momentary interests win.

  • Linda Rivera

    There is mostly silence from the media on the horrors taking place in Libya.


    We need another Martin Luther King!

    STOP the GENOCIDE of Blacks by the U.S. backed Libya rebels!

    The Obama-supported rebels left in charge are now conducting a “large scale cleaning in the areas under their control with the extermination of all blacks in the capital”, according to The Independent.

    Barbaric atrocities, kidnappings and ruthless genocide of blacks in Libya by US/France/NATO backed Al-Qaeda linked rebels has been going on for months.

    US/NATO who have waged war for months for the Al-Qaeda
    linked rebels-who murder our troops in Iraq-are RESPONSIBLE for stopping the genocide.

    US/NATO are also responsible for rescuing the
    many terrified blacks kidnapped by the rebels, including the kidnapped black children who have been horrifically abused by the black-hater Muslim rebels.

    Blacks must have human rights!


  • xlent

    While we are at it Linda, blacks in general right here in America need become knowledgable of which side to be on. As long as they keep voting for socialists, who want them enslaved to them, we will continue to have poor leadership in this country.

  • bobby

    yeah ok

  • pito calderon


  • pito calderon

    ask jackson and the strange hairdo guy to ask their buddy obama about the killing of blacks but you now what ? …..THEY JUST DONT GIVE A DAMN and blacks in this country are too bought and paid for to give a damn because if it doesnt' affect "THEM" then the hell with it and I bet the majority of them will vote for obama AGAIN along with a bunch of whites and mojados just like a bunch of stupid sheep

  • maturin20

    We suffer so much from the world arms trade.