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Missiles That Matter

by John Reed on April 13, 2012

Here’s our quick mention of the North Korean Rocket fail — that made everyone angry — yesterday. Yup, the big, what turned out to be an almost non-event that everyone’s been obsessing over and will now promptly forget. (But, wait, you know someone’s going to start raising whether the failiure of the long-ragen rocket aimed at putting a “communications satellite” on orbit was due to Western sabotage.) Despite the title of this post, click here to see why that missile actually does matter. Ok, wow, enough about the DPRK’s damn rocket already.

Now to talk about some rockets that actually pose a threat. NATO yesterday said it blew up 5,000-shoulder-fired surface to air missiles (called Man-Portable Air Defense Systems; MANPADS. I love that ridiculous acronym, btw) that were rounded up after the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.

That’s all well and good, but those were only a quarter of the 20,000 or so shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that Gadhafi’s military had stockpiled around the country. We’ve written about this potential insurgent treaasure trove for a while now and just last month we saw that some of Gadhafi’s most advanced MANPADs have made their way into the hands of Levantine bad boys Hezbollah and Hamas. Remember, Gadhafi’s loose SAM stockpiles don’t just include ancient Soviet-made SA-7s that can barely find a target, they include the Russian-built SA-24 Grinch, one of the newest and most advanced shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles out there.

Now it appears that the Krazy Kolonel’s missiles and other weapons are making their way accross Africa and they may even be fueling violence everywhere from Mali to the waters off Somalia. In fact, Somali pirates may even be using naval mines looted from Gadhafi’s old bases!

Per Reuters:

“We found that Libyan weapons are being sold in what is the world’s biggest black market for illegal gun smugglers, and Somali pirates are among those buying from sellers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries,” said Judith van der Merwe, of the Algiers-based African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism.

“We believe our information is credible and know that some of the pirates have acquired ship mines, as well as Stinger and other shoulder-held missile launchers,” Van der Merwe told Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian Ocean naval conference.

I’m sure no on needs to be reminded of what a terrorist hiding near the flight path of a major airport could do with an SA-24.

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