Study re­veals avi­a­tion se­cu­rity is en­dan­gered by in­crease in mis­siles

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The spread of por­ta­ble an­ti­air­craft mis­siles in the Mid­dle East and North Africa could pose a threat to avi­a­tion se­cu­rity if the weapons fall into the hands of Is­lamic ex­trem­ists, a re­port said on Wed­nes­day.

The easy- to- use, light­weight weapons, or man-por­ta­ble air de­fense sys­tems ( MANPADS), are pro­lif­er­at­ing due to looted stock­piles in Libya, arms traf­fick­ing and weapons sales to Iraq and other states, said the re­port from the Small Arms Sur­vey, a re­search cen­ter based in Geneva.

“The risks as­so­ci­ated with in­ter­na­tional traf­fick­ing of ad­vanced MANPADS are height­ened by the rise of IS (Is­lamic State group) in the Mid­dle East and North Africa,” the re­port said.

“Shoot­ing down a com­mer­cial air­liner would be con­sis­tent with the group’s use of in­creas­ingly bru­tal acts to heighten its in­ter­na­tional pro­file,” it said.

“To the ex­tent that IS and its af­fil­i­ates can ob­tain ac­cess to ad­vanced MANPADS, this rep­re­sents a par­tic­u­larly acute threat to avi­a­tion se­cu­rity,” it said.

The re­port added that even an un­suc­cess­ful attack could dis­rupt air travel to a par­tic­u­lar re­gion, “at least tem­po­rar­ily,” it said.

De­spite a con­certed, in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to stem the flow of the lethal weapons over the past decade, mil­i­tants con­tinue to ac­quire the mis­siles from poorly guarded de­pots and through traf­fick­ing net­works, it said.

The re­port, pre­sented at a con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by the Stim­son Cen­ter think tank in Wash­ing­ton, showed that an an­tic­i­pated rise in MANPAD at­tacks us­ing weapons looted from Libya have not ma­te­ri­al­ized.

But a new gen­er­a­tion of more ad­vanced ver­sions of the mis­siles have been spot­ted among mil­i­tants in Iraq and Syria, it said.

Armed mil­i­tants in Iraq and Syria “have ac­quired dozens” of the newer MANPADS, it said.

But the re­port said it was un­clear if those coun­tries could en­sure the se­cu­rity of de­pots hous­ing the MANPADs.

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