The CIA believes that Mideast rebels have already obtained man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADs, and the agency fears the weaponry could be acquired by terrorist groups and utilized against civilian aircraft.
This significant detail was contained in the 13th paragraph of a larger Wall Street Journal article reporting on CIA plans to possibly arm moderate Syrian rebels with more advanced weaponry if the truce in Syria continues to deteriorate and full-scale fighting resumes.
The Journal reported:
To coalition partners including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the CIA has twinned assurances that the U.S. will allow the anti-Assad coalition to supply more weapons with warnings that they would be mistaken to go behind Washington’s back to provide weapons systems that Mr. Obama has decided so far not to introduce to the battlefield.
The agency’s principal concern focuses on man-portable air-defense systems, known as Manpads. The CIA believes that rebels have obtained a small number of Manpads through illicit channels. Fearing these systems could fall into terrorists’ hands for use against civilian aircraft, the spy agency’s goal now is to prevent more of them from slipping uncontrollably into the war zone, according to U.S. and intelligence officials in the region.
The article cited U.S. and other officials divulging that the CIA was preparing for a so-called Plan B to counter Russia and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. The plan, the newspaper reported, calls for “vetted rebel units with weapons systems that would help them in directing attacks against Syrian regime aircraft and artillery positions.” That option was to be used only if the truce collapses and major fighting resumes.
It is widely understood that some Syrian rebel elements have already obtained and deployed MANPADs.
Earlier this month, a Syrian jet was reportedly shot down by rebels utilizing an antiaircraft missile. The event marks the second time the Syrian government said it was attacked in recent weeks by rebels deploying antiaircraft missiles. The Syrian military last month said one of its warplanes was shot down in western Syria in March.
This reporter raised questions about how the Mideast rebels may have obtained MANPADs.
Did NATO-member Turkey, already in hot water for brazenly shooting down a Russian warplane, pass antiaircraft missiles to rebels as part of Ankara’s obsessive bid to counter the Syria-Russia axis? Turkey, concerned by Syria’s recent gains against the Islamic State and other rebel forces, is known to be one of the main suppliers of more extremist elements among the anti-Assad rebels.
There is also the possibility that antiaircraft weapons were obtained by Syrian rebels from elements that looted Moammar Gadhafi’s reserves of of MANPADS. The largest terrorist looting of MANPADS took place immediately after the 2001 U.S.-NATO military campaign, strongly pushed by Hillary Clinton, that toppled Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
NATO failed to immediately protect the reserves of MANPADS.
As I reported at the time:
Gadhafi had hoarded Africa’s biggest-known reserve of MANPADS, with a stock said to number between 15,000 and 20,000. Many of the missiles were stolen by militias fighting in Libya, including those backed by the U.S. in their anti-Gadhafi efforts. There were reports of a Western effort to secure the MANPADS, including collecting some from rebels in Libya.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.