Tracking Mideast Weapons

Libyan weapon stocks unleashed by the 2011 revolution in Libya have made their way to other conflicts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers on Wednesday. Testifying on security lapses in Benghazi, Libya, last summer, Clinton stated to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “one of the reasons we and other government agencies were present in Benghazi” was because “we had a concerted effort to try to track down and find and recover as many MANPADS [man-portable air defense systems] and other very dangerous weapons as possible.” The weapons “liberated” by the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime “went on the black market, were seized by militia, seized by other groups, and have made their way out of Libya into other countries in the region, and have made their way to Syria, we believe,” said Clinton during the Jan. 23 hearing. Likewise, she said, anti-government opposition forces in Syria could capture Syrian government stores of chemical or biological weapons. Accordingly, she said, the United States is working to “coordinate closely with a number of like-minded nations, neighbors, and partners” to prevent those weapons “from falling into the wrong hands—Jihadist hands, Hezbollah hands—but also to try to work with the [Syrian] internal opposition for them to understand the dangers that are posed.” There’s “no doubt” Algerian terrorists and Malian Islamists “have weapons from Libya, so we have to do a much better job” of containing the proliferation of such arms, she said. (Clinton’s prepared remarks)