There are well-grounded fears that some of Venezuela's latest-generation man-portable surface-to-air missiles might get into the wrong hands.
The Venezuelan government’s decision to arm civilians to defend the country’s socialist revolution amid growing unrest is rekindling fears of terrorists and criminal organizations acquiring part of the nation’s arsenal, which include a large stockpile of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles.
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According to internal military documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald, over a number of years Venezuela has purchased several hundreds of the latest variant of the land-to-air missiles Igla-S, the Russian equivalent of the U.S.-made Stinger missile.
Caracas’ possession of the portable, infrared-homing Igla-S has been a source of concern in the U.S. for some time, given the socialist regime’s cozy relationship with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, groups classified as terrorist organizations by the U.S.
Those concerns had previously taken a back seat given repeated Russian assurances that those weapons would not fall into the wrong hands, according to State Department cables revealed by Wikileaks.
But Maduro renewed those fears last week after green-lighting the Zamora Plan — a readiness operation that calls for the activation of militias when facing an imminent threat of war — after thousands took to the streets in Venezuela to protest while accusing the Chavista leader of executing a self-coup.
The signing of the Zamora Plan gave the legal grounds to enact Maduro’s previous announcement that he would give rifles to 400,000 militias to protect his government from a coup that he said was planned in Washington.
The prospect of rogue groups obtaining the Igla-S is particularly frightening given its small size and effectiveness. Weighting only 24 pounds, the tube-like launcher could be relatively easy to smuggle across borders, and its 2.5 kilogram warhead can shoot down an airplane or helicopter from 3.7 miles away.
There's more at the link.
The Igla-S is far more advanced than the original Stinger missile, which dates back to the early 1980's. The original Igla (known as the SA-16) is of similar vintage and performance to the US weapon; I had the opportunity to compare them side by side in Angola during the mid to late 1980's. However, it's been drastically improved - so much so that in its latest SA-24 guise, it's a brand new weapon. It's probably the most advanced missile of its kind in the world.
With Hezbollah active in the Tri-Border area of South America, and also in Mexico, where it's cooperating with drug cartels, there's a real danger that these missiles might find their way northwards. Couple that with Venezuela having supplied thousands of passports to potential Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Syria and elsewhere, and we may have a security nightmare on our hands.
I think I'll be driving to future destinations, as much as possible. I also predict that videoconferencing will probably replace a great deal of business travel, for security reasons.