U.S. considering buying up loose Libyan weapons
This empty shipping case found in a Libya weapons warehouse once held a Russian surface-to-air missile
December 23rd, 2011
03:43 PM ET

U.S. considering buying up loose Libyan weapons

By Elise Labott

As part of a multinational effort to secure loose, portable weapons in Libya, the United States is discussing with the Libyan government a possible program to purchase shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from militia members and others who picked them up during the NATO-led war against Col. Moammar Ghadafi's forces, U.S. officials said. (See also the U.S. field guide to MANPADS)

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he couldn't get into the specifics of a classified program, but said the United States was trying to figure out the "most productive and efficient" way to destroy the roughly 20,000 portable air-defense systems, known as MANPADS, and was considering a "variety of different programs and methods" to do so.

The New York Times first reported on the negotiations.

Fearful the weapons could pose a serious potential threat to global aviation if they fell into the hands of terrorists or insurgents, the Obama administration has been working with the transitional government in Libya to take as many weapons out of the hands of the various militia groups as possible to avoid their sale on the black market.

State Department experts are on the ground working with the Libyan government. Also, about a dozen U.S. technical specialists have fanned across the country, inspecting former weapons sites and and trying to track down loose weapons.

Since the war's end, the State Department has also sent teams to the countries bordering Libya to encourage increased inspections and vigilance for missile trafficking.

The State Department says approximately 5,000 such weapons have been secured to date.

Although the United States believes the Gadhafi regime at one point had about 20,000 MANPADS, it is hard to determine how many are missing because some could have been destroyed during NATO airstrikes and others were picked up by militias for use against Gadhafi's forces.

"There's a lot of weapons floating around" Libya, Toner said Friday. "We are in the process of trying to find out how many of those are in existence and how we can best get these weapons and destroy them so they don't fall in the wrong hands."

Toner said that the fact that militia members may have had some of the weapons doesn't signal their intent to use them.  However, he framed the effort to secure loose weapons as part of overall U.S. support for Libya's plans to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate militias under the country's military.

"We are tailoring our support to the Libyan government to meet the specific needs of their government and the Libyan people," he said.

soundoff (93 Responses)
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    May 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  2. Latitude News

    Whether or not US goes in to buy the MANPADS, worth highlighting the work of some ordinary Libyans to try to deal with the huge number of guns in the country. Check out our report at http://www.latitudenews.com/story/grassroots-fighting-the-gun-culture-in-libya/

    December 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  3. rocket

    The only man who can clean up this mess would be chuck norris...

    December 27, 2011 at 3:23 am | Reply
  4. EDfromNY

    So do we also buy back the Patriot Missiles that Israel tried to sell the Chinese? Why does this media outlet not report on this very important story?

    December 26, 2011 at 6:22 am | Reply
  5. mickey1313

    So, we are going to buy our (US) weapons back from them. After selling them the weapons. Ok, so the arms merchants and the lobiests make out, but the americans get the bone. Let syria rot.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • ISEEDUMBPPL

      Libya

      December 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  6. tidus

    The American taxpayers buy them back then the Libyan taxpayers buy new ones from U.S. arms dealers = public loses, but arms dealers and weapons lobbyists win.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  7. kevin

    Were buying back our own arms, funny!

    December 25, 2011 at 12:39 am | Reply
  8. kevin

    How nice were buying up our own weapons, think of it as a return policy.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  9. MKULTRA CHIPMAN

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    December 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • ISEEDUMBPPL

      Man, I can't believe that CNN is allowing you to contiue to post this...unless of course they are after a laugh at the expense of the mentally ill

      December 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  10. Zzz

    Just what we need more spending. Honestly who cares just let the monkeys shoot it out.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  11. stu jordan

    Of course they want to buy up those weapons. So the U.S. war machine can sell them OUR weapons...so the 1% can make a ton in profits while the 99% live in poverty 🙂 It's the new circle of life...enjoy!

    December 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  12. Premal D.Shah

    Seems like Santa Claus will have a really good transport in Libya, riding the surface to air missiles and giving Libyan children some of the used ones.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:24 am | Reply
  13. NPhxAz

    Typical DC stupidity. Those fools are too stupid to figure out why there is no hair around the hole on the ground right in front of them. They are too dangerous to be trusted to supply a pea shooter to anybody... even if their lips are sewn shut! The funny part (really) is that NATO might have their own Fast And Furious- again compliments of Obuma.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  14. sumdumphuq

    Terrorist: Honey, on your way home stop and pick me up some MANPADS.

    Terrorist Wife: I will not be seen in that aisle! Get them yourself.

    happy holidays all

    December 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  15. ron

    So the US is going to buy what sounds like perfectly servicable weapons with taxpayer money, and destroy them. Then, when we need similar weapons ourselves, we will purchase them again, from somebody else, for us to keep. Spending yet MORE taxpayer money. And, if we don't want these weapons because they are not to our rigid specifications, we won't even consider selling them to governments that are in our favor? Just buy them for wads of taxpayer dollars, and blow them up? NO WONDER THE ECONOMY IS IN THE DUMPSTER!

    December 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  16. jim h

    If that's a Russian shoulder fired missle container, then why is all the writing in English? Either CNN grabbed a file photo or the u.s. government sold missles to Lybia. Someone is not telling the truth here!

    December 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply
  17. Albert Friday

    This sounds like an Obama deal. Buy up all the old weapons in Libya so they in turn can purchase new advanced weapons from China and Russia. This will help the Muslim Brotherhood and drive America in the toilet.

    December 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  18. Steve

    Ron Paul 2012 if you want to see idiocy like this stopped!

    December 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • mickey1313

      Paul is stupid and would make an awful president.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  19. Steve

    Ha ha, we're awesome partners to terrorists. We give them free weapons, and then buy back the leftovers at a premium.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • fiskenmann

      We should have given them tanks, drones, jets and an aircraft carrier since we'll buy them back anyway.

      December 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  20. Lejaune

    So these are mostly Russian weapons. The Libyans can simply buy more weapons from Russia or China, and sell them to the US while making a profit. We end up with the junk we have no use for and the US taxpayers get the bill. This is what's wrong with our government.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      No we are keep the world safe!

      December 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  21. SixDegrees

    Fast and Furious 2.0

    December 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  22. Scary

    If we gave them to them in the first place, why are we buying them back. Shouldn't the unused munitions just be returned to us for our own stock?

    December 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • S

      Because these are in the publics hands and not the military's. The new government does not have the resources to clean it up. Which leaves open the possibility that they could wind up in someones hands who would love to sit at the end of runway and blast a few planes.

      December 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
      • ISEEDUMBPPL

        I was waiting to see if there was anyone out there smart enough to make this point...agreed "S"...would be better to buy them back (and look like the good guys to the Libyian ppl) than to let one or more of their neighbors get ahold of them.

        December 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  23. Ben Dover

    ...or simply just continue airstrikes until the entire country turns them over.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
    • mickey1313

      bingo

      December 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  24. Lucifer

    American made weapons that "happened to fall in the wrong hands" having to buy them back. And you wonder why you country is bankrupt? Here's mor fuel to the fire, burn baby burn http://divinecosmos.com/media/Keenan_complaint_11-23-2011_SDNY.pdf

    December 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Reply
    • ISEEDUMBPPL

      they didn't "happen to fall into the wrong hands"...that's what we're trying to prevent. If they were in the wrong hands, the corrupt Libyan army would still have them.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  25. Thaigo

    pay them in food or medicine and destroy these weapons.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  26. Go Ron!

    Even if there really is 20,000 to buy back,it's the taxpayers buying them back at intrest from more money borrowed. Sad

    December 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • DB

      We probalby already paid for them once, the manufacturer profited, then they were sent to Lybia, used against us, and now we are going to buy them back again at an inflated price. Does this seem like good logic, like maybe we errored someplace at the very beginning of this whole train of events?

      December 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
      • Steve

        No, it is a valid strategy. It's what fast and furious was about. Defeat your enemies by giving them weapons, laundered money, and space to operate. Military strategy 101, what is wrong with you?

        December 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  27. Sudhir Kumar

    Sure we will buy their broken port-a-potty too and some in between contractors can make money and funnel it back to these US politicians.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  28. Coach Lew

    Just tell them we will purchase them and then when they are being unloaded to put on ships, BLOW then up and say we were just kidding!

    December 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  29. bob

    dpnt you think us helping them get their country back is enough payment

    December 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  30. Mouth

    ...and sell them to Mexican drug cartels

    December 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  31. KIrby

    Let them buy their own weapons back - they have oil and money. Why are we the world bank. What we don't trust them. They are the same people who had them for 40 years.

    December 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Hell – they're probably ours anyway.

      December 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  32. lurchfreek

    Great!!! Thanks a lot for giving Lybia enough. Time to hide or sell these dangerous weapons. WHERE IS THE BRAIn ?!?!?????

    December 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  33. Rick

    So we pay for weapons to send them, then buy them back?

    December 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  34. lurchfreek

    Buy weapons from Lybia??? Oh No, THis president is out of control. We need a new leader.Hmmmmmm

    December 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • marc

      Let me get this straight, you want to change this prez because of a weapons buy back program by Nato, but happy to vote twice for Prez Bush, putting us in two wars, wiped out the surplus not to mention we are still looking for wmd. SMH

      December 24, 2011 at 1:15 am | Reply
      • mickey1313

        agreed, it it the stupid thoughts of the GOP that have ravaged this nation to the brink of its end.

        December 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  35. cpc65

    By the time the US and UN get through all the red tape and bureaucratic BS on this endeavor most of these "loose" weapons will have already have been sold to Al Qaeda.

    December 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  36. FedUp2

    Maybe they could get them to the cartel all fast and furious like.

    December 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  37. medianone

    Now we know why the US needs to have $662,000,000,000.00 for Defense this year in addition to the $169,000,000,000.00 war supplemental. Not only do we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined arming ourselves (although we represent only 4.5% of the world population) but NOW we want to buy up their weapons as well!

    December 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  38. F

    Keep the Libyans armed. Do let allow them to disarm you. Fight them, and make sure to get rid of American/NATO presence.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  39. reddog9500

    Oh, why the hell not buy them back, since they were ours to begin with. Hey! I'll bet we could "re-gift" them in the spirit of Christmas! What really blows my mind is the fact that all the guys we're fighting today were the same ones we supported and supplied yesterday. Anybody else see the irony here?

    December 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • Bubba

      I would buy a couple – I have Gophers in my backyard. Will those work?

      December 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Reply
    • Dude

      We did not sell them the Russian missiles in question.

      December 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  40. ipmutt

    Wow, he gives the Iranian's a stealth drone. He gives the Libians stinger missles and hi tech anti tank guns. He gives the mexican gangs machine guns. This guy does all of this and then runs away. Get us a leader not a belly itcher.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • rbnjorlfl

      Wow, I didn't realize Obama was the one on the ground, coordinating all of those efforts! I could have sworn NATO, the head of the ATF, and guys like Petraeus were running those...oh wait, they were.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
    • Chris, Austin

      The Libyans got their weapons from China, Russia, and Italy. Not the US.

      You lie, and you're a bad speller.

      December 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • NPhxAz

      What kind of IDIOT has America gotten themselves stuck with. These numbskulls have NO business supplying slingshots to a one armed blind guy!

      December 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • mickey1313

      you are an ignorant f-face. I hope you family suffers for your aragance. It is without question, that the GOP started and ran all of the ops that you are blameing on Obama. Republicans are al stupid arogant liers.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  41. Freedom Luchador

    BUY?????? WTF? Didn't our government got the memo WE ARE BROKE!

    December 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
    • Brian H

      As long as the printing presses work we are not broke.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  42. rad666

    Buy to use in an international "Fast and Furious" sting operation?

    December 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  43. defender dan

    The US feds will let citizens in dangerous countries carry rpgs and ak-47s but yet back in the us of a, god help the poor soul who is caught carrying a bbgun. when the us soldiers start attacking american protesters like they do in egypt or syria or saudi arabia and north korea and definitely china, the us constitution does not deny the american citizen the right to carry any weapon necessary to defend a citizens constitutional rights. the us public should be able to buy anything and everything that is in the us army inventory, at cost! the zombies are at our door and they occupy the nations capital. don't let the title senator and congressman fool you; they have been strangling the middle class since president raygun took office and declared the trickle down policies that still exist today – thanks to zombie republicans and neutered democrats. defend yourself – start writing your law makers today so you don't have to get bloodied tomorrow. rockets and grenades won't protect you from stupid legislatures.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • us1776

      Thank you for that important paranoid message.

      .

      December 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • drinkup

      Anyone for some more KoolAid Ala Tea Party ?

      December 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • RICHARD FROM CANADA

      DEFENDER DAN,YOU ARE AN IDIOT.THE CONSTITUTION WAS PUT IN PLACE TO PROTECT WHAT THEY HAD AT THE TIME,WITH WHAT THEY HAD.MUSKETS AND CANNONS AND A COUNTRY THAT DIDN'T WANT YOU TO GET AWAY FROM THEM.SUBMACHINE GUNS,AND ASSAULT RIFLES WERE NOT IN THE MIX AS CARD CARRYING NRA TYPES WANT TO PROTECT.AS HERE,YOU CAN PROTEST ALL YOU WANT (OCCUPY SHOWED THAT)BUT WHINING ABOUT GUNS AND YOUR RIGHTS.GIVE IT A BREAK,ALL THE "ENEMYS" WE HAVE BOTH HAD OVER THE YEARS ARE PRETTY MUCH GONE.YOUR BOYS HAVE PAID THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE ENOUGH TO NOT HAVE GUYS LIKE YOU WHINE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS.KEEP YOUR PAINTBALL GUNS PRIMED SO YOU CAN GET ALL THE BAD GUYS YOU THINK ARE OUT THERE.

      December 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Reply
      • Randy T.

        Canada ? Are you serious ? Why would we care what beaver nation thinks ? Next time I need a hat Ill come up there & snatch the fur off your national symbol.

        December 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
      • Raul

        Richard...go drink some moose milk.

        December 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  44. us1776

    Terrorists are becoming more meaningless by the day.

    As democracy movements are sweeping the globe, terrorism as a mechanism for change has proved fruitless.

    Not one government on al-Qaeda's list of enemies was ever brought down using terrorism.

    .

    December 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      So terrorism is ineffective. I'd agree. But that does not make it meaningless.

      December 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  45. DEAN ALLEN JONES

    Good luck. One wonders whose "records" the victorious Western powers plan to use to enable their minions to locate these and other "loose" weapons in Libya. One of the problems of trying to surf the chaos which one has fanned and encouraged in other people's lands is that there are always unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences such as the existence of massive stockpiles of accumulated weapons which are abandoned by the fallen regimes to whoever finds them first. A better long term solution would be to change attitudes among nation states that arms are just another commodity until they fall into the "wrong" hands. Since the major powers are all counted among the top producers and suppliers of such products, I don't expect to see any changes to such policies anytime seen.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  46. twang

    I wonder how many US made stingers are over there

    December 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Brian H

      In Libya there should be none however Russian made, apparently 20,000.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  47. joey

    dont ask, just take

    December 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • watanye2

      Give them something then buy it back? Nice

      December 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • mark

      ya and we can give them to mexican cartel

      December 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • Just_One

      To he!! with that, just blow them up.

      December 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  48. ecurb

    Or we could leave them there, for the next time the Libyans need to overthrow a tyrannical government?
    Heck, just import them here...

    December 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  49. Premal D.Shah

    Right now they are in Libyan hands. But time is enemy and US needs to have its agents monitor that the shoulder fired missiles do not get into Al-Queda hands. By now, some of these weapons may already be in rogue hands.They bring down one plane and once again we will be in the cycle of recession, etc.

    December 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  50. dreamer96

    Or we could just let people that have no idea how to use them, blow themselves up...did you see the video of the kids pointing the rocket launchers in the wrong direction and blowing up their own people in Libya...

    December 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  51. mike

    This is awesome! Hopefully Holder can buy these up and ship them to the Mexican drug cartels in time for Christmas!

    December 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  52. XxMacleodxX

    Nice now we can pay for the weapons that we left two decades ago

    December 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  53. ebay

    Come get you RPG surface to air missiles for the holidays. Santa won't know what hit him...

    December 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Bif

      An RPG is not a surface to air missile.

      December 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Reply
      • ebay

        thanks for stating the oblivious captain idiot...:D

        December 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
      • jackbean

        Ebay is oblivious since he can't properly use the word 'obvious'

        December 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  54. b

    with who's money?

    December 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Tr1Xen

      Agreed. Still, something needs to be done with those weapons before they're used against us... and they certainly will be if we don't find a way to secure them.

      December 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Reply
    • Aeroman

      Ours... are you dumb?

      December 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply

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