News / Middle East

Libyan Arms Stockpiles in Egypt Causing Concern

Palestinian worker moves goods through a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai February 19, 2013.
Palestinian worker moves goods through a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai February 19, 2013.
Since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted as Libya’s leader over a year ago, Egyptian officials have been intercepting large caches of weapons smuggled from Libya destined for black-market transfer to Syria and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

But in recent weeks the pattern of the arms shipments has shifted, according to officials, and fundamentalist Muslim groups in Egypt, known as Salafis, also are receiving the weapons.

The pattern shift is alarming Egyptian officials, who estimate they are seizing only a fraction of the weaponry - including shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles - flowing across the border from Libya.

In late February, Egyptian authorities announced they had intercepted two pickup trucks carrying 60 anti-tank missiles smuggled in from Libya.

Arms to Egyptian groups

The trucks, which were loaded in Mursa Matruh, 430 kilometers northwest of the Egyptian capital on the Mediterranean Coast, were heading to the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula. But officials now think that not all the missiles were earmarked for transfer to Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

“Not all the weaponry flowing into Libya is going to the Gaza,” a European diplomat told VOA on the condition of anonymity. “The Egyptians are becoming alarmed that weapons are now being stockpiled by Egyptian Salafi groups. They are starting to uncover arms trafficked from Libya in the [Nile] Delta and believe other weapons are being stored in Sinai. It is making them very nervous.”

Weapons stockpiles

The reports of weapons stockpiling by militant Salafi groups is coming at a time of increased tension between Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Salafist political parties.

This past week, representatives of the Salafist Nour Party unleashed a scathing critique of President Morsi and the governing Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Other Islamists groups spurned by Morsi also joined in the attack, blaming him for Egypt’s worsening political crisis and warned that Egypt will remain on edge until a national unity government is appointed.

They accuse the government of using repressive tactics similar to those used by ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Adding to Morsi’s mounting woes, he also is being severely criticized by militant Islamists, including elements of al-Qaida. Late last month, Abu Mus’ab, a former adviser to the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, told an Arab broadcaster that Morsi’s government was, “evil.” “This regime must fall and an Islamic state be established,” he said.

Abdel-Fattah Othman, Egypt’s deputy interior minister for public security, warns that the proliferation of illegal weapons is making what is an already tense situation even worse.

“Weapons coming from neighboring countries are contributing to the chaos,” Othman said. “In Port Said, for example, we faced armed groups using rockets and grenades in an attempt to storm the city’s prison complex.”

Since the end of January, more than 60 people have died in such clashes, three of them policemen.

With militant groups in Egypt stockpiling more weapons, the fear is that unrest could lead to greater violence.

Libyan weapons in Mali

Arms trafficking from Libya contributed to the destabilization of northern Mali, where huge inflows of weapons plundered from Gadhafi’s arsenals helped Tuareg mercenaries and jihadist fighters to carve out their own enclave in the heart of the sub-Sahara.

Last November, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) leader who masterminded the seizure of an Algerian natural gas plant in January, bragged about how easy it had been to obtain Libyan weapons. Belmokhtar, later reported killed by pro-government forces in Mali, said his group got the weapons through channels from Gadhafi’s arsenals during the eight-month-long uprising that ousted the late Libyan leader.

The weapons intercepted in Egypt have included everything needed to start a small war - surface-to-air missiles, rockets, anti-aircraft guns, automatic rifles, RPG7 rocket launchers and huge amounts of ammunition.

Libyan rockets hit Israel

A Palestinian worker takes a break from working on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt's Sinai and the Gaza Strip.A Palestinian worker takes a break from working on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt's Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
x
A Palestinian worker takes a break from working on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt's Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian worker takes a break from working on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt's Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
Experts in the region noted that many of the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza late last year were Grad rockets obtained from Libyan sources. The Egyptian security services say they have seized consignments that included Grad rockets. One of the biggest seizures came last November when Egyptian authorities intercepted a shipment of 108 Grad warheads on the docks at Mursa Matruh.

Egyptian President Morsi has vowed to crack down on the arms trafficking. And on February 3, Egyptian authorities began flooding the tunnels used for smuggling weapons and commercial goods between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai.

According to U.S. intelligence sources, contacts have increased in recent months between Al Qaeda-linked Jihadists and more localized Salafist groups in Sinai and the Egyptian Delta region.

Paul Sullivan, of the Washington D.C.-based National Defense University, says that continued instability in Egypt bodes ill for long-term security. “The more poor and hopeless young people there are the easier it is for militants to recruit, pay and train them.”

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: S. Hanifl from: La Crosse, WI
March 06, 2013 6:23 PM
America does not fund the Muslim Brotherhood, at least this is not public knowledge. What is public knowledge is that as long as the Middle East continues to threaten American allies and defy, rightly or wrongly, modern western morality, America and the rest of the developed world have a vested interest in keeping close tabs on the goings on of Egyptians. I say to you, Egyptian, take care of your mess at home so you can rejoin the international community proudly. And learn to ignore the propaganda and realize the truth, that America wants stability as much as it wants democracy. Give it both.


by: Hatbat Al Quds from: Egypt
March 05, 2013 11:32 PM
America, the AK47 and explosives weapons coming here are from Libya, Iran and Gaza- Hamas. but bad drugs are coming here from Turkey. everyone buys guns, police very bad, worse than ever, arresting everyone not Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is helping Muslim Brotherhood police to kill Egyptians. America, you give weapons to Muslim Brotherhood WHY??? they are killing us with your weapons. WHY?? America!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid