ADD THIS TO THE IRANIAN THREAT – AT 8:57 A.M. ET: The so-called "Arab spring" seems to have produced little but worry for the West. Egypt is slipping into Islamism. Syria has turned into a killing field. And...remember those Libyan anti-aircraft missiles that went missing during Libya's phase of the Arab spring? David Ignatius, in today's WaPo, reveals where they might be. This is serious stuff:
Whenever the CIA uncovers a new plot overseas, like al-Qaeda’s latest scheme to blow up civilian aircraft using advanced, hard-to-detect explosives, people breathe a sigh of relief. But this is a multifront war, and almost by definition, the attack that gets you is the one you didn’t see coming.
For the past few months, I’ve been hearing private warnings about another threat to commercial planes — namely, the spread of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from Libya after the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi’s regime. A State Department official said in February that Gaddafi had acquired 20,000 of these weapons, and that only 5,000 of them had been secured through a $40 million U.S. program to buy up loose missiles.
“How many are still missing?” asked Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, in his Feb. 2 speech. “The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”
Here’s the scary part: Two former CIA counterterrorism officers told me last week that technicians recently refurbished 800 of these man-portable air-defense systems (known as MANPADS) — some for an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that is often seen as an ally of al-Qaeda — for possible use against commercial jets flying into Niger, Chad and perhaps Nigeria.
COMMENT: One of our nightmares is that missiles like this, broken down into component parts, might be smuggled across the Atlantic to, say, Venezuela, then smuggled into the United States across our southern border. Even a small number of missiles could wreak havoc with our commercial air system.
Several weeks ago a high administration official was quoted as saying that the war on terror was over. Apparently, he was misinformed.
May 9, 2012