Moammar Gadhafi is on the run, but his abandoned arsenal of missiles and chemicals might still pose as big a threat as ever. President Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, says terrorists are looking at Libya as "an arms bazaar," hoping to use Gadhafi's old stockpile of mustard gas and bombs against the West. How worried should we be that Gadhafi's weapons will fall into terrorists' hands?
This is a nightmare in the making: The "looting of Gadhafi's arsenal" could have deadly consequences for the war on terrorism, says Abigail Hauslohner at TIME. Iraqi insurgents used pilfered artillery shells and land mines to build bombs that have killed thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Gadhafi's abandoned arms depots house more ordinance than Saddam's did, and "with little centralized authority" in Libya, there's not much to stop terrorists from helping themselves.
"Gadhafi's abandoned arsenals raise Libya's terror threat"
Even a few missiles would be a terrorist bonanza: The real danger isn't just that insurgents will acquire explosives for IEDs, says Defense Tech. It appears that Gadhafi had thousands of modern, Russian-made shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles that are capable of taking down a plane flying at 11,000 feet. Dozens have been looted from one base alone. It's not "very comforting" to ponder who might have them, and what they plan to do with them.
"Modern shoulder-fired SAMs missing in Libya"
But we can counter the threat: The U.S. knows it can't stand idly by, says the Baltimore Sun in an editorial, so the State Department is already working with private contractors "to identify and destroy the most dangerous weapons" as they surface. "But the onus is really on the rebels to take action." We must pressure them to step up their efforts.
"Gadhafi's arsenal: Still dangerous"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- The safest seats are at the back of the plane — and 5 other surprising facts about airline crashes
Subscribe to the Week