Thousands of surface to air missiles stolen in Libya

The Russian version of the Stinger Missile is a formidable weapon - especially if you want to use it to shoot down civilian air planes. CNN:

Grinch SA-24s are designed to target front-line aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones. They can shoot down a plane flying as high as 11,000 feet and can travel 19,000 feet straight out.

A couple of thousand of these beauties are now in the hands of Libyan rebels of unknown loyalties, and just about anyone else who walked into Gaddafi's unguarded special forces armories and helped themselves:

Fighters aligned with the National Transitional Council and others swiped armaments from the storage facility, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The warehouse is located near a base of the Khamis Brigade, a special forces unit in Gadhafi's military, in the southeastern part of the capital.

The warehouse contains mortars and artillery rounds, but there are empty crates for those items as well. There are also empty boxes for another surface-to-air missile, the SA-7.

Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN he has seen the same pattern in armories looted elsewhere in Libya, noting that "in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles."

He said such missiles can fetch many thousands of dollars on the black market.

"We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I've seen cars packed with them." he said. "They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone."

There was no immediate comment from NTC officials. (Emphasis mine)

I doubt whether the ambitions of jihadists - who made up a sizable segment of the Libyan rebel army - are much attuned to turning Africa into a "no fly zone."

America? That's another story.