In comments today Derrin Smith, a top US adviser on the subject of portable shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, claimed that the vast majority of Libya’s missile stockpile, long reported looted, is actually still in the country and just waiting to be recovered.
“We’ll work with the government to recover those into centralized government inventory control,” Smith insisted. Previous reports had the missiles pouring out of the nation at an alarming rate, with Algeria actually closing the border explicitly to slow the flow of such weapons into the country.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the al-Qaeda affiliate in northwest Africa, also claimed last week to have been the “main beneficiaries” of the smuggling, and claimed to have acquired large quantities of such weapons.
Reports are also continuing about the exact same weapons showing up in the Gaza Strip. The US has been keen to use the idea of loose weapons to be recovered to justify funding the new regime in Libya, but it only makes sense if the weapons are still available to recover. Smith says there is “no indication” the weapons are showing up elsewhere, but there have been an awful lot of reports to the contrary over the past several months.