Entries in Anti-Terror (2)


State Dept: No ‘Firm Evidence’ Libyan Anti-Aircraft Missiles Have Left Country

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Seeking to try to allay growing reports that Libya’s portable anti-aircraft weapons walked out of the country amid the chaos of the country’s NATO-supported civil war may not have been realized, a top U.S. State Department official claimed Monday.

“Thus far, we have not seen any firm evidence that they have left the country, but we are still obviously very concerned about it,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Andrew Schapiro, whose office has overseen efforts to track down and secure or destroy those weapons, told reporters.

Libya is believed to have stockpiled up to 20,000 of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons known as MANPADs since the 1970s. Some of the weapons have heat-seeking capabilities and could be used to take down a commercial airliner. After this year’s NATO-led bombing campaign many, perhaps thousands, were destroyed and others got loose, sparking fears that they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Schapiro didn’t say whether they may have fallen into the wrong hands within Libya, but regional al Qaeda leaders have suggested they have benefited from the instability there by scooping up those and other deadly weapons.

The State Department has been working with Libyan authorities to secure the weapons and destroy any that are not needed for the country’s defense. The U.S. has already invested millions of dollars in the effort. Schapiro visited Libya earlier this month where he said that so far the State Department has secured nearly 5,000 of the weapons.

The State Department believes many thousands more may have been destroyed when NATO planes bombed Moammar Gadhafi’s weapons depots. Their experts are now going to those sites to try to catalogue how many were there. It’s also unclear how many Gadhafi may have used or how many others may no longer be operational after years in storage.

The rest are believed to be in the hands of militias who looted some of the weapons caches during and after the war.

“The key now is convincing those who hold onto these weapons to turn them in and take them out of circulation.  And we were working with the Libyan authorities on the best way to do that,” Schapiro told reporters, adding that they are also in touch with the militias.

The State Department on Monday released its 10th annual report entitled “To Walk the Earth in Safety” on its efforts to destroy and clear conventional weapons like MANPADs and land mines around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Twelve Arrested in British Anti-Terror Sting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- British police arrested 12 men early Monday morning who were allegedly in the final stages of a major bomb plot.

The plot was allegedly directed at targets inside the U.K. The men were arrested after weeks of surveillance by law enforcement and MI5 in raids in London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent. The men are between 17 and 28 years old and are mostly British citizens from Bangladeshi backgrounds.

"The arrests were absolutely necessary to keep the public safe," said John Yates, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Britain's senior counterterrorism police officer. He also reminded people to remain vigilant due to a large number of terror threats that officials are currently monitoring.

Authorities did not say the attacks were deliberately planned for the holidays, though the U.K. is at its second-highest level of terror alert, and last week U.S. authorities warned of possible attacks during the Christmas season because of their "psychological impact."

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Europe because of a heightened concern about terror. A captured German jihadi had reportedly provided details of an alleged Mumbai-style small arms attack on civilians. Terrorists killed almost 200 people in a multi-day assault on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

Authorities said Monday's arrests were not linked to a Mumbai-style plot, and that there were no links to the Swedish backpack bombing earlier this month, in which a British resident killed himself and wounded bystanders in central Stockholm. There was also no link to alleged reports from captured Iraqis that attacks were coming during the holiday season.

The arrests were the biggest anti-terror action in Britain since April 2009, when another dozen men were detained in Manchester in connection with an alleged Al Qaeda bomb plot. Islamists terrorists killed almost 200 people with multiple train bombings in Madrid in 2004, and killed 52 in London in 2005.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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