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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

update Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More