Washington: News reports appear to confirm weeks of worries by senior White House and congressional officials that large numbers of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles have gone missing in Libya.
ABC News is reporting that a secret White House meeting discussed the disappearance of 20,000 “portable, heat-seeking” missiles.
They quote Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, saying that a State Department expert “is on the ground in Libya,” along with five specialists, to work with the new government to find, secure and, if necessary, destroy the missiles.
Libya possessed large stocks of Grinch SA-24 and SA-7s shoulder-launched missiles. The Grinch is a much more sophisticated and effective missile than the SA-7. The Grinch is considered similar to the famous Stinger anti-aircraft missile that helped the Afghans defeat the Soviets.
AOL D readers will remember that the White House’s top counterterrorism official, John Brennan, made it very clear several weeks ago that the White House worried al Qaeda will get its hands on the missiles. There were already reports then of large numbers of missiles being looted as the Qaddafi regime collapsed.
Brennan told an intelligence conference organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), that “a lot of the senior al Qaeda leaders are Libyans… so it’s important to work closely with” the new government.
The good news may be that the U.S. has extensive experience securing such threats. The CIA has dedicated personnel who track and buy or steal such weapons. They did a good job of securing the Stinger missiles supplied to the Afghans who defeated the Soviet Army. Let’s hope they do a repeat performance.