U.S. scrambling to find thousands of missing surface-to-air missiles

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Compiled by Bill Gertz,

U.S. officials are stepping up efforts in North Africa and the Middle East to account for thousands of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles that have been dispersed around the region as the result of the Libyan civil war.

A Libyan rebel holding a complete SA-7 system. C.J. Chivers/ N.Y. Times

The officials said the missiles are beginning to show up on the black market, raising new fears that terrorists will obtain the missiles and use them to down aircraft, both civilian and military.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Oct. 3 refused to confirm reports that thousands of surface-to-air missiles were on the loose in Libya, but he said it was up to the National Transitional Council to keep weapons locked away.

“We do not comment on specific intelligence matters,” Rasmussen said. “In general, all weapons that end up in the hands of people with bad intentions is a big problem.”

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