News / Africa

Gadhafi Collapse Raises Concerns Over Arms for Africa al-Qaida

Large mortar shells sit unguarded, and boxes that once held anti-aircraft missiles and other heavy weapons are strewn about arms depots around Tripoli on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2011. Former rebels say they've taken some ammunition for the fight against suppor
Large mortar shells sit unguarded, and boxes that once held anti-aircraft missiles and other heavy weapons are strewn about arms depots around Tripoli on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2011. Former rebels say they've taken some ammunition for the fight against suppor

The collapse of Moammar Gadhafi's rule is raising concern about the spread of weapons from Libya and the effect on security in a Sahelian region where al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists are already active.

Human Rights Watch says thousands of mines, mortars and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles are missing from Gadhafi arsenals.

Some of those weapons are being used in Libya as the war there continues. But other arms are moving south into the Sahel - some with former Gadhafi forces who have crossed into Mali and Niger, some for sale.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz says Libyan weapons have been acquired by members of the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.  He told French television that an AQIM attack on a Mauritanian garrison in July included surface-to-air missiles that he says could only have come from Libya.

Algeria and Chad have both expressed concern about AQIM benefiting from a free flow of Libyan arms.

Niger says it has broken up an AQIM training camp in the country's northern Air Mountains, and that its raid on the camp freed 59 recruits.  The defense ministry is asking for international assistance to help Niger gather intelligence about terror groups and to conduct aerial surveillance.

Niger's Justice Minister Marou Amadou says the fall of the Gadhafi government is helping terrorists.

Amadou says AQIM is supplied in Libya and that is a danger for everyone.  It is a very grave situation, he says, and people should start to pay more attention.

Africa's Sahel region
Africa's Sahel region
The Sahel is six million square kilometers and runs along the southern fringe of the Sahara from Mauritania and Senegal to Chad.   And it is in the Sahel where Amadou says these forces are organizing.  They do whatever they want there, Amadou says.  The justice minister says terrorists are a menace for Sahelian governments, but more than anything else, they represent a threat to Europe.

Husaini Monguno is a Nigerian defense and counter-terrorism analyst.  He says more sophisticated weapons for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb will likely accelerate the group's campaign against Sahelian governments and foreign aid workers.

“Surface-to-air missiles [are] easy for them to get because they have a number of sponsors," said Monguno. "They will destabilize the government.  And you see they have a number of people who they normally attack.  And if the type of people they attack are within their region they will obviously become a problem for those people.”

Monguno says that Gadhafi loyalists forced out of Libya ultimately could use AQIM fighters against the new leaders in Tripoli.

"Of course because they are at the losing end, so they would not want to see Libya being stabilized by other people apart from them," said Monguno.  "They have been there for 43 years, so it is only natural for them to try to destabilize the whole country.  These people have a common tradition.  They speak a common language. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb is not a new thing."

Monguno says it is not just Libyan missiles that could destabilize the region. Land mines can be used to make car bombs, he says, and small arms can be used to attack military posts.  Both are methods of attack used by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.

"If you are talking about light weapons, yes, that is common in all Sub-Saharan Africa, because we have a porous border.  We don't control what comes in and out.  Therefore it would give us a great sense of concern, especially in Nigeria, where we have a new group coming up with terrorist activities," said Monguno.

Libya’s National Transitional Council says it is working to collect weapons removed from Gadhafi armories.  But without an inventory of arms purchased by the former government, it is impossible to know for sure how many weapons are missing.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid