U.N. experts say arms trafficking out of Libya is fueling conflict, insecurity and terrorism on several continents.
Since civil war ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, the experts said “Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons.”
In a report to the U.N. Security Council obtained Wednesday, the panel of experts said it is investigating the alleged transfer of weapons to 14 countries in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
The experts said they have documented the transfer of Libyan shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist groups in Mali and Tunisia, and to others in Chad, Lebanon and “potentially” the Central African Republic.
They said Lebanon’s seizure of a Syria-bound ship in April 2012 proved that there were attempts to transfer these shoulder-fired missiles, as well as short-range surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian opposition from Libya.
Despite efforts by Libya and other countries to account for and secure shoulder-fired missiles in the country, the panel said its sources stated that thousands of them were still in arsenals controlled by a wide array of militias and “non-state actors with tenuous or non-existent links to Libyan national authorities.”
The 97-page report details the panel’s efforts to track a wide variety of weapons and ammunition.
The panel said significant quantities of arms, and at times fighters, have gone mainly to Syria, Egypt, and northern Africa’s Sahel region.
“This indicates how trafficking from Libya is fueling conflict and insecurity—including terrorism—on several continents,” they said. “This is unlikely to change in the near future.”
The panel said Libya’s “polarized political landscape” and deteriorating security have left most arsenals in the hands of armed groups, and the government with very limited capacity to control the country’s borders, ports and airports.
The experts said old ammunition stores from the Gadhafi regime are also a source of arms proliferation because they contain large quantities of materiel, are under control of a range of actors, and have generally poor security resulting in regular looting.