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Will Libya Again Become the Arsenal of Terrorism?

Will Libya Again Become the Arsenal of Terrorism? is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

During the 1970s and 1980s, Libya served as the arsenal of terrorism. While this role may have received the most publicity when large shipments of weapons were intercepted that Libya was trying to send to the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Libyan involvement in arming terrorist groups was far more widespread. Traces conducted on the weapons used in terrorist attacks by groups such as the Abu Nidal Organization frequently showed that the weapons had come from Libya. In fact, there were specific lot numbers of Soviet-manufactured F1 hand grenades that became widely known in the counterterrorism community as signature items tied to Libyan support of terrorist groups.

As we have discussed, the conflict in Libya could provide jihadists in Libya more room to operate than they have enjoyed for many years. This operational freedom for the jihadists might have an impact not only in Libya but also in the broader region, and one significant way this impact could manifest itself is in the supply of arms. The looting of the arms depots in Libya is reminiscent of the looting in Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. There are also reports that foreign governments are discussing providing arms to the Libyan rebels in the eastern part of the country. While it is far from clear if any of those discussions are serious or whether any potential patron would ever follow through, past operations to arm rebels have had long-lasting repercussions in places like Afghanistan and Central America.

In light of these developments, a tactical discussion of the various classes of weapons contained in Libyan supply depots and how they could be utilized by insurgents and terrorists is in order. Read the rest of this entry »

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