Study reveals aviation security is endangered by increase in missiles
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.