Fears that some of the world’s most sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons that disappeared from government warehouses in Libya would end up in the hands of stateless insurgent are being realized.
At least some of the roughly 480 high-performance SA-24 “Grinch” shoulder-launched missiles that disappeared during the Libyan uprising have reappeared in the hands of insurgents on the borders of Israel, say senior Israeli officials.
The advanced weapons were smuggled out of Libya to Iran. From there the supply line split, with some weapons going to Syria and finally to the military wing of the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon. Others were smuggled into Egypt and then to Hamas in Gaza.
“They are in the Gaza Strip,” an Israeli official tells Aviation Week. “I don’t know in what numbers. They also are in Lebanon.”
The Russian-made SA-24 is a top-of-the-line, man-portable air defense system (Manpads) that is lethal to aircraft, helicopters and UAVs to an altitude of 11,000 ft. U.S. officials earlier confirmed that Libyan weapons went to Hezbollah and Gaza, but contended they did not know the fate of the SA-24s. Only empty packing crates were found in Libyan warehouses.
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