Thousands Of Libya Missiles On The Loose; Civilian Aviation Threatened

From Defense News:

Officials oversee destruction of Libyan missiles

The NTC [ Libya’s National Transitional Council] estimates that almost 5,000 SAM-7s from Gadhafi’s stockpiles are still unaccounted for – raising concerns that the missiles could fall into the wrong hands and be used against civilian aircraft.

Called to the hangar on Oct. 1, journalists watched as 10 of the SAM-7s were neutralized with hammers, their guidance and firing systems destroyed. The NTC estimates it has neutralized 180 such missiles in recent days.

It is about “showing to the entire world that the new Libya is anxious to contribute to international security,” Mohamed Hadia, the general in charge of armaments at the defense ministry, told journalists at the site. “These missiles are light, of small size and easy to handle. Even if they are obsolete against modern combat planes, they could be used to destroy a civilian plane on landing or take-off,” he said.

Anti-terrorism experts fear that hundreds of such weapons could have fallen into the hands of extremist groups, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb(AQIM), or be used in global trouble spots.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported Oct. 2 that Adm. Giampaolo di Paola, who chairs the committee of NATO military chiefs, held a secret briefing for German MPs on Sept. 26 in which he said at least 10,000 missiles were loose in Libya. The missiles present “a serious threat to civil aviation,” the Italian admiral reportedly said.



According to a U.S. State Department report, more than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by such portable surface-to-air missiles since 1975, causing about 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world. In November 2002, at least one SAM-7 missile was fired against an Israeli civilian plane in Mombasa, Kenya, but barely missed its target, in an attack claimed by al-Qaida.

The full story is here.

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