Shoulder-fired missiles stolen from Libya now out of the country
We've covered the story of the missing SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles that the new Libyan government failed to secure after they booted Gaddafi out of Tripoli.
As an update, it appears that there is good news and bad news about those missiles. USA Today:
Missiles like those have been used in attacks on 40 aircraft, causing 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths since 1975. Under Gadhafi, Libya had stockpiled about 20,000 of the missiles, called Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).
Not all are missing, says the State Department, which is working with Libya's transitional government to account for the missiles.
"We believe that thousands of MANPADS were destroyed during NATO operations because weapons bunkers were a major target," said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs.
Many missiles are also under the control of forces loyal to the transitional government there, and others are too old to work, the State Department said.
The sale of MANPADS is tightly controlled, but they have sometimes wound up in the hands of terrorists who used them to take down airliners in Georgia and Sri Lanka.
Most of Libya's stockpiles are SA-7s, a shoulder-fired missile that targets a heat source on an aircraft.
"There are some worrying indicators that some MANPADS, type non-specific, have left the country," said Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command.
So the good news is that "only" several hundred to a couple of thousand of these missiles have gone missing.
The bad news is that it only takes one to cause a tragedy. And this whole thing could have been prevented:
Rogers said the administration's pledge to not deploy troops in Libya made the government hesitant to deploy Americans to track the missiles until recently. "I have some concerns that we may be a little bit late," he said.
That's the story of the Obama administration; a day late and a dollar short.