‘Al-Qaeda acquires Gadhafi’s weapons’
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania / TRIPOLI
An anti-Gadhafi fighter looks at weapons left by Gadhafi forces in Misrata. Part of Gadhafi’s arsenal was claimed to be acquired by al-Qaeda’s North Africa franchise. REUTERS photo
Al-Qaeda’s North Africa franchise acknowledged it had acquired part of slain Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s arsenal, in comments by one of its leaders quoted Nov. 9.
The comment came after the top U.N. envoy in Libya said earlier this week that some weapons depots in Libya have still not been secured properly, and “much has already gone missing” from unguarded sites. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, believed to be one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), made the remarks to Mauritanian news agency ANI, which has carried interviews and statements from the group in the past.
“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” said Belmokhtar, an Algerian national. “As for our acquisition of Libyan armament, that is an absolutely natural thing,” he said, without elaborating on the nature of the weapons purportedly acquired. Officials and experts have expressed concern that part of Gadhafi’s considerable stock of weapons could end up in the hands of AQIM, which has bases in the Sahel and currently holds several foreign hostages. According to several experts, AQIM has acquired surface-to-air missiles which could pose a threat to flights over the region.
The top U.N. envoy in Libya Ian Martin said Nov. 6 preventing more weapons from being smuggled out of country will be difficult, considering the nature of the vast desert nation’s borders. Martin said the unsecured weapons remain a “very, very serious cause for concern.” He said they include shoulder-held missiles, mines and ammunition. “It’s clear that much has already gone missing from unsecured locations and that there are still locations which have not been properly secured,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also urged Libya’s new leaders to quickly bring under control unsecured munitions. U.N. Security Council before urged Libya to prevent such weapons from reaching terrorists and other armed groups. It also called on Libyan authorities to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in coordination with international authorities.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.