Unsecured Libyan Weapons Went to Boko Haram
Abe Greenwald | @abegreenwald
Add another drop of tragedy to the story of America’s reluctant, no-boots-on-the-ground operation in Libya in 2011: Weapons that were never secured after Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster made their way to Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist organization now holding hundreds of Nigerian girls. Last May, Boko Haram staged an attack in the town of Bama, killing 55 innocents and freeing 100 prisoners. That month Reuters ran a story by Tim Cocks headlined “Nigeria’s Islamists staging bolder, deadlier comeback.” It explained:
The Bama attack showed their [Boko Haram’s] substantial firepower, including machine guns, large numbers of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, a sign the weapons flood from the Libyan war that helped rebels seize parts of Mali last year has reached Nigeria, officials say.
Let this be a miserable lesson in the dangers of foreign-policy ambivalence. The Obama administration was dragged kicking and screaming into Libya and refused to take the necessary steps to secure the regime’s weapons after Gaddafi was gone. This “light footprint” approach was praised by many as a low-risk “new model” for American military action. But in reality it was just world-policing on the cheap. The results speak for themselves. We can either fight terrorism or we can watch it advance and offer our remorse after the fact.
2012 NEWS REPORT
Boko Haram weapon smugglers killed
Nigeria’s military said Wednesday that two suspected Boko Haram Islamists who were trying to smuggle heavy weapons into the country were killed by troops during a shootout on the border with Chad.
The alleged insurgents were caught carrying rocket-propelled grenades, Kalashnikov rifles as well as other assorted ammunition and weaponry, Sagir Musa, a military spokesman in the northeastern town of Maiduguri told AFP.
Maiduguri, considered Boko Haram’s base, has seen some of the worst violence blamed on the radical Islamist group, which is charged with killing more than 1,000 people in Nigeria since mid-2009.
“The interception was carried out around 2100 on Monday at the Daban Masara border,” Musa said, referring to the crossing just north of Maiduguri.
“Two suspected Boko Haram members escorting the consignment were killed in an exchange of gunfire while the third fled,” he added, claiming “the weapons were heading to Maiduguri for terrorist attacks.”
The crossing on Lake Chad is also close to the borders with Niger and Cameroon.
The troops who killed the suspected insurgents were part of a four-country multi-national force set up several years ago partly to stem the flow of illegal weapons through the porous border regions, Musa said.
Some security analysts say that Boko Haram regularly purchases weapons from markets in Chad and Niger.
There is also speculation that the radical Nigerian group has benefitted from the weaponry that poured out of Libya during the conflict that toppled ex-dictator Moamer Kadhafi last year.