Home > LIBYA, POLITICS > Scores of heat-seeking missiles still in Libya?

Scores of heat-seeking missiles still in Libya?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laaska News Oct. 4,2011

 Levkov Igor

Photo: RIA Novosti 

A group of US military specialists has been sent to Libya to tackle the disappearance from Libyan state custody of at least 10,000 portable heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles. The suggestion is that the SA-7 missiles were earlier purloined and are currently in the hands of terrorists.

Called a Strela-2 in Russian or a Grail in the West, the SA-7 is a low-altitude surface-to-air missile system, which can be mounted on vehicle-based launchers or fired from a person’s shoulder. The Gaddafi regime obtained about 20,000 such missiles, with the bulk of them thought to be then captured by the rebels.

Forces loyal to the rebel-led National Transitional Council hardly need the SA-7s, experts say, recalling the fact that Libyan air space is now fully controlled by NATO aviation. Some analysts point to smugglers who could sell the missiles to al-Qaeda militants based in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan – something that is fraught with grave consequences, according to Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia aired on Tuesday, Oleg Kulakov, of the Moscow Military University, lamented Brussels’ reluctance to prevent the disappearance of the SA-7s from Libya’s arms depots. This really raises eyebrows given that Brussels was in the know about the missiles well ahead of the  NATO military operation in Libya, Kulakov says:

“To my mind, NATO simply decided to turn a blind eye to the problem and is now pretending that the news about the CA-7s was a surprise for them, Kulakov says, citing Brussels’ politically motivated decision to depose Muammar Gaddafi.”

Kulakov particularly pointed to the fact that the portable SA-7 system is relatively simple to conceal and use, which will be of great help to terrorists.  The Russian expert cited a terrorist attack in 2002, when two SA-7 missiles were fired at an Israeli holiday jet that had taken off from an airport in Mombasa, Kenya. No one was hurt in the attack, fortunately.

Meanwhile, many remain downbeat about US specialists’ efforts to track down and destroy the SA-7s in Libya, where, analysts say, a new state security system is yet to be created. The bulk of the SA-7 missiles is most likely to have been sold to radical Islamists outside Libya, which makes efforts by the US mission irrelevant.

Laaska News.