Rep. Mike Rogers says there is a very real threat that extremist elements with al Qaeda ties might try to get hold of weapons stockpiled by Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi. The chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee also said on CNN Tuesday unless they are secured, Gadhafi’s weapons cache could end up on the black market.
“It’s very concerning — and if you have seen the chaos in the street, even as victory is just about to take hold there, it doesn’t give you a warm and fuzzy that these troops, who are very undisciplined, will be able to secure the weapons sites,” Rogers told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We know that al Qaeda is interested in some of these weapon systems, and we know that the black market is alive and well and would love to get their hands on some of this stuff.
“We do know through other intelligent sources that al Qaeda is present in Libya and is interested in obtaining certain types of weapons systems — we don’t have a very good acuity beyond that,” the Michigan Republican said. “But we do know they’re interested, which means . . . I think, turns up the temperature on the U.S. interests when it comes to national security about securing and accounting for all of those weapons systems that we’re worried about.”
Rogers, who has cautioned of the dangers of Gadhafi’s weapons since the conflict began in the spring, said Libya has “tons of mustard gas that we know of . . . they had sarin gas experiments.”
“We just don’t know how much they had — we do know, again, that they’ve had tons of mustard gas and it wouldn't take a lot,” he said. “You can imagine the terror of that type of a weapon.
“They also have something called MANPADS: shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles — and there are a lot of them there,” Rogers said, adding the weapon could easily shoot down a commercial aircraft.
Blitzer asked whether the United States would need to send experts into Libya to secure the weapons.
“I would work with them right now about gaining that assistance and start heading out to these particular places that we know of and where we find new sites — we ought to be all over it,” Rogers said. “So we need to be prepared — that means you have a surge of diplomatic efforts. Our NATO friends can be incredibly helpful — but we offer certain special capabilities that I think need to be applied to this problem in our own U.S. national security interests.”
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