Smuggled Libyan weapons flood into Egypt
Large caches of weapons from Libya are making their way across the Egyptian border and flooding black markets in Egypt’s already unstable Sinai peninsula, according to current and former Egyptian military officials and arms traders in the Sinai.
Surface-to-air missiles, most of them shoulder-launched, have been intercepted by Egyptian security officials on the road to Sinai and in the smuggling tunnels that connect Egypt to Gaza since Moammar Gaddafi fell from power in Tripoli in August, a military official in Cairo said. Arms traders said the weapons available on the clandestine market in Sinai also include rockets and antiaircraft guns.
The seizures raise fresh concerns about security along the sensitive area that borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, at a time when unrest is roiling the region. The addition of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to arsenals used by Palestinian fighters in Gaza could add significantly to the threat against Israel, whose helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft frequently patrol the zone, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.
“We don’t want to see Egypt as a pathway to smuggle weapons,” said Sameh Seif el Yazal, a retired Egyptian general in military intelligence who said several surface-to-air missiles have been intercepted on the desert road from Libya to Alexandria and on the northward toward Gaza. “We believe some Palestinian groups made a deal with Libyans to get special weapons such as shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.”
Concerns over security in Sinai have been growing in Egypt as well among Israeli and American officials, who have called on Egypt to do more protect the sensitive area that borders the Gaza Strip and Israel…