Wonderful: 20,000 surface-to-air missiles may be missing in Libya

posted at 9:30 pm on September 27, 2011 by Allahpundit

Is this “news”? CNN reported three weeks ago that Qaddafi’s warehouses of SAMs were being carted off by unknown characters of unknown savoriness. The only new information here, from what I can tell, is that the situation hasn’t changed much almost a month later. From CNN’s Sept. 7 report:

Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN he has seen the same pattern in armories looted elsewhere in Libya, noting that “in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles.”

He said such missiles can fetch many thousands of dollars on the black market.

“We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I’ve seen cars packed with them.” he said. “They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”…

The governments of neighboring Niger and Chad have both said that weapons from Libya are already being smuggled into their countries, and they are destined for al Qaeda.

The White House tells ABC they’ve sent five specialists to Libya to coordinate with the rebels in capturing and destroying the remaining missiles. Three problems with that. One: Given how chaotic the country is, with the “rebel army” really just a bunch of different militias fighting under the same banner, it must be nearly impossible for the rebel government to have its orders to seize the missiles carried out. If you were an impoverished Libyan kid leading a squad of fighters and you stumbled upon a cache of SAMs, what would you do? Hand them over to someone in Benghazi whom you’ve never met and who might not be in power a month from now or cash in for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market? Two: The new leader of the biggest rebel militia is a guy named Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who, it turns out, is not only an Islamist who met Bin Laden while fighting the Russians in Afghanistan but who helped found a Libyan jihadist group that ended up on the State Department’s terror list. Do you suppose he’d be inclined to share some of those SAMs with Al Qaeda instead of forfeiting them to America’s “specialists”? Or, since our pockets are deeper than AQ’s, will he be a sport and merely extort us into buying them back, with the proceeds to be used for who knows what?

Three: The new power dynamics in Libya are such that it’d be nutty for any would-be warlord to disarm and place himself at the mercy of his countrymen. If any single theme has defined the media’s Libya coverage over the last month, in fact, it’s been disunity in the rebel ranks and emerging rivalries between the civilian leadership and military commanders. Back on August 30, the Times described Tripoli as having been “divided into fiefs, each controlled by quasi-independent brigades representing different geographic areas of the country.” The next day the Guardian described how rebel fighters from Misrata refused to recognize the Benghazi council as the true government of the country. A few weeks later Foreign Policy worried about rising tensions between Islamists and liberals, troop leaders and civilian leaders, western Libyans and eastern Libyans, and overall discontent with the country’s new de facto prime minister. Then, eight days ago, WaPo flagged a predictable development:

About a month after rebels captured Tripoli and forced longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi to flee, revolutionary militia groups are sweeping up any weapons they can find, often from huge ammunition dumps left unguarded as his forces retreated…

Many of the weapons are heading to the Nafusa Mountains, home to Libya’s ethnic Berber minority, according to officials, commanders and well-connected businessmen. Others are going to Misurata, the coastal city that played a major role in resisting Gaddafi’s army during the revolution.

“These groups do not recognize any authority or any control,” the commander said. “These are areas which suffered a lot during the last few months of the regime, and now they think that whatever they do is justified.”…

[T]here is a sense in Tripoli that brigades and regions are sizing up one another based on how many fighters and weapons they possess.

Just two days ago, the Times filed a new update noting that rebel fighters continue to send newly discovered weapons back to their hometowns for hoarding rather than to Benghazi; meanwhile, the Libyan rebel government is deadlocked over the regional composition of the new parliament, which was entirely predictable in a society as tribalist as this one is. All of this is perfectly understandable, actually — if you’d been under Qaddafi’s thumb for 40 years, you’d want to arm yourself to the teeth at the first chance too — but it goes to show that realistically there’s no chance of getting these SAMs back soon. Maybe, if the new government managed to keep the peace for a few years, some hoarders would eventually feel secure enough to give up their missiles, but for now they need to prepare for the possibility of a civil war and/or the near-certainty of an insurgency, which may have already begun. Is it possible to convert a SAM like a Stinger into an RPG or IED? We’re about to find out.

Exit question: What other fun little toys are tucked away in Qaddafi’s warehouses? Hmmmm.

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AlQaeda: “I love you Obama”

faraway on September 27, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Someone will be hard-pressed to convince me that a bureaucrat with Human Rights Watch can tell the difference between portable SAM missiles and RPGs or other weaponry. This story should have been labeled “Too Bad To Check”.

doufree on September 27, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Don’t worry, we’ll find them in Israel.

NotCoach on September 27, 2011 at 9:36 PM

So, this is the “Smart” way to depose a dictator. Ahem.

Mord on September 27, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Maybe we should invade Libya and install a nutty dictator who we can ply with racy photos of female diplomats to get him to do what we want.

pedestrian on September 27, 2011 at 9:38 PM

doufree on September 27, 2011 at 9:35 PM

There a both video and pictures to back him up. Empty storage crates and truck beds full of loot.

Mord on September 27, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Who needs missiles when you have exploding government crappers

http://themorningspew.com/2011/09/27/government-toilet-goes-all-explodey/

bloggless on September 27, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Look–we said the mission was to protect innocent Libyan civilians. We never said anything about protecting innocent, non-Libyan citizens.

Christien on September 27, 2011 at 9:40 PM

AlQaeda: “I love you Obama”

faraway on September 27, 2011 at 9:32 PM

This.

And with the West’s open and porous borders, how long before these missiles are delivered to American and European jihadist cells, or homegrown “sudden jihad syndrome” people?

This is a disaster that can, literally, end commerical airline traffic, until every one of those 20,000 missiles are accounted for.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I just watched the video. Why didn’t the Human Rights Watch guy remove several missiles like he said he could have? If he were truly concerned about the issue he would have. Don’t leave them all for the thugs, take some dumb arse.

NotCoach on September 27, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Libya is just putting on her marching shoes.

Urban Infidel on September 27, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Isn’t this just the latest batch of weapons that has disappeared? Seems like I keep reading about weapons going into the wrong hands or disappearing over there. I’m beginning to think the only reason we’re in this war is to arm terrorists.

JellyToast on September 27, 2011 at 9:42 PM

“They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”…

I bet Quacky wishes he’d had that many missiles like that.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:44 PM

How’s that ‘leading from behind’ working out for you, Obozo?

I swear, everything that ‘man’ touches turns to gold for militant islam, or Iran.

CPT. Charles on September 27, 2011 at 9:45 PM

I bet Quacky wishes he’d had that many missiles like that.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Against modern combat aircraft, the missiles aren’t very effective.

Against airliners taking off or landing – deadly.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Coming to an American airport near you.

boomer on September 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Against airliners taking off or landing – deadly.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Assuming they’re actually functional and in the hands of competent users, perhaps.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM

Arab Spring! Ain’t it grand.

SlaveDog on September 27, 2011 at 9:52 PM

Assuming they’re actually functional and in the hands of competent users, perhaps.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM

So, we have to trust to luck?

I feel better already.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Libya, days not weeks…

obladioblada on September 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

I’m shocked! Shocked I say.

vcferlita on September 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

So, we have to trust to luck?

I feel better already.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Do you have a better plan?

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

The Libyan “freedom” fighters have been selling them to the highest bidder….

sandee on September 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Do you have a better plan?

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

How about a complete blockade of Libya, land sea and air, until these missiles are accounted for.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:56 PM

“We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I’ve seen cars packed with them.” he said. “They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”…

And with our porous border, especially the one to the south, all of the U.S. into a no-fly zone.

Lon Chaney on September 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Sounds like a better plan. That was quick, too.

Christien on September 27, 2011 at 9:58 PM

How about a complete blockade of Libya, land sea and air, until these missiles are accounted for.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Sounds like a start, while it lasts. Although I’ve heard MANPADS from various sources have been available to shifty characters for some time.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

And with the West’s open and porous borders, how long before these missiles are delivered to American and European jihadist cells, or homegrown “sudden jihad syndrome” people?

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:40 PM

From what I have seen lately, this administration would sell missiles like these and then loose track of them.
But why spend hard earned money when all you need to do is to follow Obama’s wars.
No boots on the ground means “it’s a free fer all”

Electrongod on September 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

True, but imagine the consequences of even one MANPAD downing one airliner with all aboard.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Does anyone get the impression modern American liberalism is an ongoing exercise in magical, wishful thinking? Do these people ever–and I mean ever–consider possible outcomes and worst-case scenarios when they decide on a course of action? Do future events run through their heads like a soft-filtered mini-movie of prancing unicorns and glittery rainbows?

To the point, did anyone, military or civilian, bring this up during the preliminary phase of this operation: ‘Gee, Mr. President, I was thinking, what happens to all of Qaddafi’s weaponry if the country descends into chaos? Oh, and yeah, do you suppose any radical jihadis are among the rebels?’

Approximately 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in the hands of Al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries. The possibilities give me chills.

troyriser_gopftw on September 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Did we provide air cover for the systematic looting of these weapons? Now, wouldn’t that be something?! Or did we just scare off the guards by covering rebel advances, only to leave once the guards left?

Christien on September 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Isn’t it interesting to watch the beginnings of World War 3 in real-time?

Jason Coleman on September 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM

True, but imagine the consequences of even one MANPAD downing one airliner with all aboard.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Don’t need to imagine it, it’s happened before.

Now back to the plan. The sea and air part are probably not so very difficult. Hell, we keep tons of cocaine out of the US every year.

Then we just need to ensure Libya’s land borders with Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Niger, Chad and Tunisia are impassable. Not a minor matter of detail.

It might be simpler and more effective to begin fitting civilian aircraft with military-type countermeasures.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Does anyone get the impression modern American liberalism is an ongoing exercise in magical, wishful thinking? Do these people ever–and I mean ever–consider possible outcomes and worst-case scenarios when they decide on a course of action? Do future events run through their heads like a soft-filtered mini-movie of prancing unicorns and glittery rainbows?

To the point, did anyone, military or civilian, bring this up during the preliminary phase of this operation: ‘Gee, Mr. President, I was thinking, what happens to all of Qaddafi’s weaponry if the country descends into chaos? Oh, and yeah, do you suppose any radical jihadis are among the rebels?’

Approximately 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in the hands of Al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries. The possibilities give me chills.

troyriser_gopftw on September 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM

I’m sure it came up.

Nameless staffer: Aren’t you worried about these weapons falling into the wrong hands, sir?

Obama: Do you think it will hurt my re-election chances?

Nameless staffer: Well, no, but it could cause mayhem in North Africa and the weapons could potentially fall into the hands of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama: Who cares? Now, about this speech I’m giving in Denver….

Good Solid B-Plus on September 27, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Do they require maintenance, special batteries or special storage? Muslim maintenance practices are an organic Stuxnet.

BL@KBIRD on September 27, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Does anyone get the impression modern American liberalism is an ongoing exercise in magical, wishful thinking? Do these people ever–and I mean ever–consider possible outcomes and worst-case scenarios when they decide on a course of action? Do future events run through their heads like a soft-filtered mini-movie of prancing unicorns and glittery rainbows?

To the point, did anyone, military or civilian, bring this up during the preliminary phase of this operation: ‘Gee, Mr. President, I was thinking, what happens to all of Qaddafi’s weaponry if the country descends into chaos? Oh, and yeah, do you suppose any radical jihadis are among the rebels?’

Approximately 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in the hands of Al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries. The possibilities give me chills.

troyriser_gopftw on September 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Worrying about trivial stuff like that would waste valuable time that could be spent watching ESPN and playing golf.

Wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the wall in the Bush home right about now?

stvnscott on September 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM

It might be simpler and more effective to begin fitting civilian aircraft with military-type countermeasures.

DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 10:12 PM

This should have been done long ago, but we both know it won’t be done until the unthinkable happens.

Do they require maintenance, special batteries or special storage? Muslim maintenance practices are an organic Stuxnet.

BL@KBIRD on September 27, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Russian weapons are easier to maintain and operate. Besides, it would take only one to work, out of 20,000, those are odds no one would want to gamble with.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 10:31 PM

I’m sure we will have them all under lock and key in a matter of days, not weeks.

pedestrian on September 27, 2011 at 10:32 PM

They most likely are Russian surplus cira 1983. Some people have the missiles but no launchers and some have the launchers and no missiles. They has sat in the open air with dust and humidity for 30 years. They have a higher value as IED explosives than Surface to Air and most likely not even work one way or the other. If they launch one at a F-18 or Typhoon regardless of who fired it and it if hits anything, they will be liquefied in very short order.

Could you call this WMD that they could not find in Iraq as the media hit the reports that they found them. How many weapon caches did they lose in Iraq and all they where used for where IED as they cause the most damage over a missile.

tjexcite on September 27, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Is it possible to convert a SAM like a Stinger into an RPG or IED? We’re about to find out.

MANDPADS are designed to take out the lighter armor of an aircraft. So they wouldn’t be particularly effective against ground targets, but they are still deadly. They would be an awfully expensive munition against softer targets (obviously using multiples helps). There are much cheaper munitions out there for IEDS, and I’d bet there are plenty of RPGs and other such weapons floating around too.

clement on September 27, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Did someone imply that this whole kinetic action thing was a chance to re-supply AlQaeda? Now that is up there with the 911 truther nutters.

mechkiller_k on September 27, 2011 at 10:40 PM

It’s not a problem with the proper medicine

in fact I’d dump most of the expensive security regarding our defense against, generally 99.999% of the time, muzzos

since none of these acts of, man made disaster, snark, occurs without the backing from somewhere and it’s always a matter of time from the event to knowing who was behind it you simply make it clear that extreme retaliation follows

I don’t care about innocent farmers and woman and children from the offending nation

That is too bad but should also serve as impetus to reform ones country before it’s culled

the answer is easy

Acts of war should be considered acts of war

Sonosam on September 27, 2011 at 10:41 PM

So when will the MSM pillory The One for leading from behind and leaving those warehouses unguarded.

You know, like they did to Bush.

……………….crickets……………………

GarandFan on September 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM

It might be simpler and more effective to begin fitting civilian aircraft with military-type countermeasures.
DarkCurrent on September 27, 2011 at 10:12 PM

just another expensive item which is a goal

burden us with inconvenience and expense which can be navigated around anyway

nope

I say dispense with all and let it be understood that the nation that supported, ignored will suffer a hundredfold

I bet we would start to see some exceptional policework at that point

Sonosam on September 27, 2011 at 10:48 PM

I could swear I saw a picture somewhere online of some tribal Libyan guy dragging a couple of these off to his home. Seemed like a smart move to me, since the poor schlub probably didn’t have any other way of defending his home/hovel from the tribe guy next door who might want it.

My guess is most will use these weapons for defense in the upcoming tribal unrest/war.

But then, I could be dead wrong too.

marybel on September 27, 2011 at 10:55 PM

c’mon AllahP…dude, you coulda totally worked in a little “this is a job for Charlie Sheen to totally #win like he did back in the day”..snark.

ted c on September 27, 2011 at 11:20 PM

20,000 surface-to-air missiles may be missing in Libya

This.

smellthecoffee on September 27, 2011 at 11:26 PM

If the “bad guys” have them, why haven’t they already been used?

diogenes on September 28, 2011 at 12:25 AM

For that matter, did the Libyan Army regulars use the missles against Nato aircraft while they were still in their possession? If not, why?

diogenes on September 28, 2011 at 12:31 AM

But then, I could be dead wrong too.

marybel on September 27, 2011 at 10:55 PM

dead wrong?

Axe on September 28, 2011 at 1:51 AM

On an unrelated note, all surface-to-air missiles now being equipped with $3 worth of electronics allowing them to be located via satellite anywhere in the world.

Also, even less related, American surface-to-air missiles now being given the ability to be remote detonated in place. The DOD is protecting the detonation circuits with encrypted passwords, and promises not to use “sex” (again).

Axe on September 28, 2011 at 1:56 AM

Don’t worry, we’ll find them in Israel.

NotCoach on September 27, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Missed this the first time. I wish I missed it the second. Too true, too ugly.

Axe on September 28, 2011 at 1:59 AM

Some of these weapons already turned up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists-

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/israeli-officials-palestinians-in-gaza-got-anti-aircraft-missiles-from-libya-1.381395

If they’d travelled that far by the end of August I dread to think where else they’re being shipped to. No doubt quite soon some Libyan “refugees” will spread out through Europe (and probably be welcomed into the UK) and the weapons will come with them.

Jay Mac on September 28, 2011 at 5:47 AM

This is a disaster that can, literally, end commerical airline traffic, until every one of those 20,000 missiles are accounted for.

Rebar on September 27, 2011 at 9:40 PM

You said it. These things can knock out an aircraft at 11,000 feet according to one report. They won’t show up here first though.

Some of these weapons already turned up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists-

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/israeli-officials-palestinians-in-gaza-got-anti-aircraft-missiles-from-libya-1.381395

Jay Mac on September 28, 2011 at 5:47 AM

I predicted this here at HA when they first went missing.

dogsoldier on September 28, 2011 at 6:28 AM

What? They never existed in the first place.

/Iraqi WMD logic

Red Cloud on September 28, 2011 at 8:59 AM

With the current idiotic terrorist wanna be’s here, in power, maybe this is Fast ans Furious part 3 or 4.

ORconservative on September 28, 2011 at 10:13 AM

dogsoldier on September 28, 2011 at 6:28 AM

I thought TSA ended airline traffic ???

orbitalair on September 28, 2011 at 10:51 AM

I’m beginning to think the only reason we’re in this war is to arm terrorists.

JellyToast on September 27, 2011 at 9:42 PM

This.

Solaratov on September 28, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN

CNN cites the same HotAir discredited HRW quoted by ABC? Color me unsurprised.

FLASHBACK: Before NATO operations commenced, Kaddafi publicly VOWED to resume targeting civilian airliners.

Why are folks still ignoring the evidence Kaddafi was busy funneling these arms to al-Qaeda?

Come on. Does anyone honestly accept the HRW boast;

I myself could have removed several hundred if I wanted to…

Cluebat: I myself find it hard to side against the NTC allies of our heroic NATO airmen– and with Chavez, Castro, Ortega, Mugabe, HRW, ABC, CNN, et.al.

Terp Mole on September 28, 2011 at 12:38 PM

FLASHBACK: Reagan’s strategy in Afghanistan armed our Afghan-Contra allies with SAMs to roll back Soviet imperialism. Our CIA also had to buy-back those Stingers for many years.

The Libyan-Contras’ victory over Kaddafi’s thugocracy is a LONG overdue triumph for the Reagan Doctrine.

Post-Bush/Blair, it took EU conservatives (Cameron, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Merkel) to successfully revive the Reagan Doctrine by arming and supporting Libyan-Contras.

American conservatives should focus on congratulating our heroic NATO airmen (and our new Libyan allies) for a job well done– and ignore the nattering naybobs of negativity at Human Rights Watch, CNN, ABC, et.al.

He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong.”

God bless Ronald Reagan and our heroic NATO airmen.

Terp Mole on September 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM

The other down-side to the “Arab Spring” .. North Korea will keep it’s nukes.

Britain’s outgoing diplomat to Pyongyang has cast doubt on North Korea’s willingness to denuclearise, saying its officials believe Col Muammar Gaddafi would have survived the Libyan uprising had his regime kept its weapons.

This then cinches it, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will award the prize to the “Arab Spring” because it has done so much to end the process of denuclearization.

J_Crater on September 28, 2011 at 2:32 PM

FLASHBACK: Before NATO operations commenced, Kaddafi publicly VOWED to resume targeting civilian airliners.

Why are folks still ignoring the evidence Kaddafi was busy funneling these arms to al-Qaeda?

Reagan (3/86): Gulf of Sidra skirmish
Kaddafi (4/86): Berlin disco massacre
Kaddafi (4/86): TWA840 massacre

Reagan (4/86): Tripoli air assault
Kaddafi (9/86): PA73 massacre
Kaddafi (12/88): PA103 massacre
Kaddafi (9/89): UTA772 massacre

Contrary to popular conceits, Kaddafi clearly bested and outlasted Reagan.

Does anyone imagine Kaddafi is now intimidated by Obambi?

Mark these words: Anything short of a Kaddafi dirt-nap will be a grave mistake.

*faster please*

Terp Mole on October 10, 2011 at 3:51 PM