Fears grow that Qaddafi arms are unsecured

The chemical agents and nuclear material stored by former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi have reportedly been secured, but many of his stockpiled conventional arms may have already crossed the country’s porous borders.

Ian Martin, the United Nations envoy to Libya, recently said that weapons moving out of Libya, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and machine guns, are a very serious concern, according to AFP.

"Although the chemical weapons and nuclear material appear to be secure, there is very serious concern that a lot of other weaponry has gone missing and may have already crossed borders," Martin said, AFP reports. "So we are trying to assist efforts to address that within Libya."

One western intelligence report warned that truckloads of guns have already passed through the Darfur region of Sudan, headed for militant groups in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

"What is sure is that the arms have gone into Chad, Mali and Niger," Mauritania's Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi said, AFP reports.

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou held talks with the Libyan National Transitional Council about the weapons, which he says are spread across the Sahel-Sahara region and could fall into terrorists’ hands.

Meanwhile Qaddafi’s son Saadi, three generals and a former chief of security services have sought refuge in Niger along with several dozen Qadaffi associates.

Diplomats and military chiefs from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and the European nations of France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain recently met to discuss the issue. The multi-lateral talks focused predominantly on how to keep the arms from equipping Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to AFP.

"The fallout from these stockpiles could last for years in Africa," one African diplomat, said, AFP reports. "There are far fewer arms in Somalia, but the Islamists are already supplying groups in Yemen, Ethiopia and countries in the region. All around Libya there are groups who will take advantage of Qaddafi's downfall."