Libya rebellion arms flow to terrorists in Syria

Libya rebellion arms flow to terrorists in Syria
Sat Jun 22, 2013 13:23:09

Libya rebels are sending their rebellion arms to militants in Syria with the help of Qatar, a report says.

As the United States and its Western allies move toward providing lethal aid to militants in Syria, “secretive transfers give insight into an unregistered arms pipeline that is difficult to monitor or control,” the New York Times wrote in an article on Friday.

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi weapons are sent on ships or Qatar Emiri Air Force flights to a network of intelligence agencies and Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey.

From there, militants distribute the arms.

Extremist fighters, some of them aligned with al-Qaeda, have the money to buy the newly arrived stock, and many rebels are willing to sell.

Qatari C-17 cargo aircraft have made at least three stops in Libya this year -- including flights from Mitiga airport in Tripoli on Jan. 15 and Feb. 1, and another that departed Benghazi on April 16, according to flight data provided by an aviation official in the region.

The planes returned to al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

The cargo was then flown to Ankara, Turkey, along with other weapons and equipment that the Qataris had been gathering for the rebels, officials and rebels said.

Evidence gathered in Syria, along with flight-control data and interviews with militia members, smugglers, rebels, analysts and officials in several countries, offers a profile of a complex and active multinational effort, financed largely by Qatar, to transport arms from Libya to Syria’s opposition fighters.

Last week the US government claimed that it had evidence that Syrian army had used sarin nerve agent in multiple attacks, a claim which was rejected by the United Nations as not being liable. However the United States said based on its own claims they will begin providing military aid to the militants.
In doing so, the United States could soon be openly feeding the same distribution network, just as it has received weapons from other sources.
The movements from Libya complement the airlift that has variously used Saudi, Jordanian and Qatari military cargo planes to funnel military equipment and weapons, including from Croatia, to the outgunned militants.
On Friday, Syrian opposition said they had received a new shipment of anti-tank weapons and other arms, although they give varying accounts of the sources of the recently received arms.
The CIA has already played at least a supporting role, the officials say.
Mr. Bukatef, the Libyan diplomat, said Libyan militias had been shipping weapons to Syrian rebels for more than a year.
“They collect the weapons, and when they have enough they send it,” he said. “The Libyan government is not involved, but it does not really matter.”
One former senior Obama administration familiar with the transfers said the Qatari government built relationships with Libyan militias in 2011, when, according to the report of a United Nations Panel of Experts, it shipped in weapons to rebel forces there in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
As a result, the Qataris can draw on their influence with Libya’s militias to support their current beneficiaries in Syria. “It’s not that complicated,” the former official said. “We’re watching it. The Libyans have an amazing amount of stuff.”

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