Libyan militants allied with terrorist groups stole millions of dollars in high-grade American military equipment, including armored Humvees and advanced night-vision goggles, during raids on a U.S. special forces base outside of Tripoli last summer.
Fox News reports that anonymous sources in the State Department and military confirmed the theft, which is far worse than the few guns first assumed stolen earlier this month. In addition to hundreds of M4 automatic rifles and Glock pistols, nearly every set of available night-vision goggles and laser-targeting devices were snatched during two night-time raids on the compound in July and August.
Even more ominously, 23 Ground Mobility Vehicles, heavily armored Humvees with GPS navigation systems and weapons mounts for grenade launchers, are also missing.
“It’s not just equipment… It’s the capability,” one source told Fox. “You are giving these dangerous groups the capability that only a few nations are capable of… All these militias are tied to terrorist organizations and are tied to [jihadist movements].”
The military hardware was stored at a U.S. special forces camp set up outside the Libyan capital in the months after the Benghazi attack. The 12-man American team running the camp had two missions: to hunt down those responsible for the September 11, 2012 attack that killed Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and to train Libyan government forces in military tactics and weapons use.
But U.S. special forces were not there to defend the camp during either of the raids, instead sleeping at a nearby villa doubling as a safehouse. And Libyan government forces tasked with securing the camp proved no match for the militants.
After the second raid in August, the State Department pulled its support and American operators were sent home. “The loss of this military equipment is what pulled the plug on the U.S. operation,” one source said.
“No one at the State Department wanted to deal with the situation if any more went wrong,” the source continued, “so State pulled its support for the training program and then began to try and get the team moved out of the country.”
On top of that, U.S. forces failed to destroy the American-built training camp before their departure last month, and the compound is now home to a Libyan anti-government militia busy stockpiling weapons.
Some diplomats told Fox that all of Libya now appears as unstable as Benghazi in the days before the attack on the American consulate, and military sources said that foreign fighters continue to stream through Libya’s porous borders.
“The theft of these weapon and the open borders are feeding al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood and threatens Libya’s neighbors as well,” a special operator told Fox. “It’s already bad — and now it’s really bad.”
“Already assassinations are picking up in Tripoli and there are major worries that the militias are using this stolen equipment to their advantage,” another source said. “The European ambassador was attacked and we are now commonly seeing robbing and attacking of people in broad daylight… This isn’t perception. This is actually happening.”
The news comes one week after President Obama waived federal law prohibiting the transfer of U.S. weapons to terrorist groups in order to arm Syria’s rebels.
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