• December 7, 2021

Terrorist groups and anti-aircraft missiles

The Taliban, their ally Al-Qaeda and renegade terror group ISIS-K may have inherited hundreds of deadly anti-aircraft missiles fired from the shoulder of fallen Afghan government weapons depots, experts say. SpyTalk.

The exact number of missiles and their origin, type, age and viability are difficult to come by. A 2019 report by RAND Corp.’s expert group put the total at an alarming 4,500, but experts consulted by SpyTalk he called that figure unreliable. That number almost certainly represents the number of MANPADS – Human Portable Air Defense Systems – acquired by successive Kabul regimes dating back decades, they say. It is highly unlikely, experts say, that Washington has provided any to Kabul. Any left, they say, constitutes a fraction of those acquired by the Taliban regime overthrown by the United States in 2001 or its predecessors. That being said, no one seems to know the arrangement of the missiles.

Still, even the possibility of a fraction of MANPADS in the hands of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or ISIS-K, a faction of the Islamic State active in Afghanistan, has alarmed officers and pilots.

“Military aircraft have been making corkscrew landings, and other aircraft have fired flares on take off, both measures used to prevent missile strikes,” said the Associated Press reported Monday.

“There is a strong possibility that ISIS-K is trying to carry out an attack at the airport,” said a US defense official. told CNN Saturday. A senior diplomat in Kabul also told CNN that officials “are aware of a credible but not immediate threat from the Islamic State against the Americans at Hamid Karzai International Airport.” The US military has been establishing “alternative routes” to the airport to prevent terrorist operations, CNN said.

It was not known whether the alleged leftover MANPAD stocks include products made in the USA. Stingers, which the CIA supplied to the Afghan mujahideen with devastating effect on Soviet aircraft in the 1980s. After the conflict ended in 1989, the United States launched an aggressive worldwide program to buy back the missiles, but “many,” according to a Arms Control Organization Report 2013, “He remained disappeared after the conflict” despite the effort and “some reached the international black market and the hands of terrorists.” A WikiLeaks document dump in 2010 it included “a dozen reports of possible attacks on Afghanistan coalition aircraft using heat-seeking shoulder missiles,” but the Pentagon questioned its reliability.

In 2016, however, the military-oriented news site War is boring obtained highly redacted documents through the Freedom of Information Act ”which seem to show only excuse me The frightened American commandos were the anti-aircraft missiles of the extremists. So scared that the special operators made an urgent request for additional defensive equipment. “He said that on March 30, 2015,” US Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Trask, vice commander of the US Air Force Special Operations Command The US sent a memorandum called ‘joint urgent operational need’ to their superiors at the Pentagon. Application asked for equipment to detect and defeat man-portable surface-to-air missiles. The censors removed any description of the threat and any mention of where elite troops might be in danger. But Trask’s message made clear that, in that context at least, missiles posed a possibly unavoidable risk. “

In any case, and for whatever reason, the Taliban did not use MANPADS to any strategic effect during the 20-year war. Rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and buried roadside bombs (IEDs) were the insurgents’ weapons of choice.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment specifically on an ongoing threat from MANPADS, but said the United States is “seriously concerned by reports of seizures of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) military equipment by the Taliban … and is … doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our implementing partners and their facilities. “

The Taliban have captured huge stocks of American weapons, including tanks, planes, and drones. Reuters and other news organizations have reported. One official said: “The Taliban are believed to control more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including American Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft, potentially including UH-60 Black Hawks, exploration attack helicopters and ScanEagle military drones.” According to Interception, the insurgents also seized abandoned wearable biometric devices that are used to verify the identity of Afghans working for the US that contain “iris and fingerprint scanners, as well as biographical information, and are used to access large databases. of centralized data “. It is not clear ” Interception he said, “how much of the US military’s biometric database on the Afghan population has been compromised.”

“I had the impression that we had cleaned all [the MANPADS] after we toppled the Taliban government in 2001, “said a former Green Beret officer who led one of the teams to Afghanistan in October 2001.” I remember reports that all MANPADs were not working while being collected due to their age and poor maintenance. “US special forces troops took it upon themselves to disable the MANPADs they discovered, he and another expert said. SpyTalk.

“I am very skeptical of the existence of MANPAD stock” at present, added the former Green Beret on condition of anonymity to discuss such a sensitive issue. “Those would have been blown up first during this reduction. And i don’t believe [U.S.-backed Afghan governments over the past 20 years] “It had an independent procurement system that would have allowed it.” He said “I wouldn’t assume there is zero” MANPADS, “but I have no idea where RAND got its numbers from.”

A RAND researcher who contributed to the study said SpyTalk your report was probably based on data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the database of arms transfers of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Whatever their progeny, the estimate of 4,500 missiles in Kabul is almost certainly wrong.

The State Department spokesman, speaking without attribution, said SpyTalk that “Afghanistan has long been one of the areas where the MANPADS working group”—A multi-agency effort—“ has been actively involved. ” (In fact, the state has been involved in working on the issue as part of weapons destruction programs since it has been working in the country since the late 1980s). To date, “he said,” the MANPADS Task Force has eliminated more than 41,000 of these surface-to-air missiles, as well as anti-tank guided missiles, worldwide. “

But he also said MANPADS “outside state control” remain “a cause for concern due to the potential threat to civil aviation,” noting that there have been “dozens of cases” since 1970 in which terrorists used them against commercial aircraft.

If the Taliban inherited any MANPADS, they are probably “older Russian / Soviet-made SA-7Ss,” says Derrin Smith, who led international outreach mission teams for the MANPADS Task Force.

“There is a question about the viability and lethality of the remaining MANPADS in Afghanistan, which are now possibly in the Taliban’s arsenal and under their control,” said Smith, a former Marine Corps intelligence specialist who later toured. Iraq and Afghanistan and much of the world. by missiles, said SpyTalk. But, Smith added, “Even older SA-7s made in Russia or the Soviet Union can be quite reliable and lethal, with a long shelf life as long as the packing boxes have not been opened.”

According to Small Arms Survey, an independent research group based in Geneva and Washington, DC, “Enhanced versions of the [SA-7] have a maximum range of more than two and a half miles and can hit targets flying at altitudes of up to 7,500 feet. “The group added that” Islamist fighters (throughout the Middle East and North Africa) have fewer missiles Chinese FN-6s and Russian Igla Missiles Much Improved Compared to the older SA-7, the FN-6 can hit farther targets and is more likely to outperform the bright decoys that military aircraft use to deflect incoming missiles.

Or, as Smith puts it, “In many respects, MANPADS are the perfect terrorist weapon: lightweight, compact, high-lethality, and long service life, even in harsh climates.

“We must have hope,” he said. SpyTalk, “That any residual units in inventory have already been destroyed.”

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