Are Hellfire missiles the Garden Gnomes of 2016? In January, one ended up in Cuba. Today, Air Serbia found a pair of them on a flight bound for Portland, Oregon, apparently originating in Beirut. CBS’ Portland affiliate KOIN reported on the discovery:
Serbia’s authorities are investigating reports that a cargo package bound for the U.S. containing two missiles with explosive warheads was found on a passenger flight from Lebanon to Serbia.
N1 television said the package with two guided armor-piercing missiles was discovered Saturday by a sniffer dog after an Air Serbia flight from Beirut landed at Belgrade airport.
Serbian media say documents listed the final destination for the AGM-114 Hellfire missiles as Portland, Oregon. The American-made projectiles can be fired from air, sea or ground platforms.
The Oregonian reports that the FBI has begun looking into the find, but has no information on it yet:
The AGM-114 model is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrup Grumman. It weighs about 100 pounds and costs about $110,000 apiece. Most models use laser to home in on their targets, although one version of the AGM-114 relies on radar.
The FBI in Portland said it is looking into the reports.
“We don’t have any information on that yet,” Jennifer Adams, an FBI spokeswoman, said Sunday afternoon.
Why Hellfire missiles, and why Portland Oregon? One has to wonder why, of all places, these missiles would be headed to the peace-loving community of Portland. KGW News reports that the FBI has nearly 70 active terrorism cases in Portland. There is a wide range of terrorist motivations, including ISIS terrorist recruits, anti-government extremists, and eco-terrorists. FBI Special Agent Gregory Bretzing told KGW back in December 2015 that ISIS was actively attempting to recruit susceptible people in Oregon, as well as other states.
Would Hellfire missiles have been received by local terrorists in Portland, Oregon? Bretzing cited four major terrorist busts that took place in Oregon since 1999. Hopefully, a fifth arrest will spring from the investigation of where, exactly, that package was going.
Clearly someone wanted the missiles in Portland. Arms dealers and terror groups don’t just send munitions to a particular city without someone in mind to pick them up. Hellfire missiles cost $110,000 apiece retail, not exactly dirt cheap for just some rag-tag militia group. These would cause serious damage, and someone or several someones had a plan in mind for them. The sudden propensity for Hellfire missiles to turn up in unusual places should have the FBI and DoD more than a little concerned. Thus far, they’re just turning up for photo ops, but luck will eventually run out.