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WASHINGTON – There remains frustration in trying to track down up to 20,000 missing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles taken out of the bunkers during the waning days of the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Now that they have disappeared, and despite a U.S. program worth tens of millions of dollars to try and relocate them, only 5,000 have been turned in.
Concern is that many of them were acquired by al-Qaida elements in Libya and surrounding countries. Increasingly, intelligence sources also are seeing these weapons wind up in the hands of African jihadists such as the al-Qaida affiliated Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Tuareg tribesmen in Niger and Chad.
Those could be used against commercial airlines. Because civilian airlines would be a likely target, there also is concern that Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb may have acquired many of them and could potentially be smuggling them into Europe. That could be a potential threat to civilian airlines flying there.
That results in the possibility of catastrophic costs should those who have the missiles unleash them on civilian aircraft at any point.
Now, informed sources tell G2Bulletin that al-Qaida elements said to be infiltrating into Syria from Lebanon to join the opposition at the urging of central al-Qaida leader Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri also may have acquired many of the missing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
Al-Qaida elements also appear to be infiltrating from the Western-most provinces of Iraq – which are predominantly Sunni – and going directly into Syria from there, possibly with some of these shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
In addition, the Palestinian camp, Ein el-Hilweh near Saida, or Sidon, south of Beirut, also is known to have a concentration of al-Qaida elements, something which even the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah also is concerned about.
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