1. (C) SUMMARY: Although the strategic situation limited the Qadhafi government’s ability to leverage the deliveries, NATO intelligence has confirmed several instances where outside suppliers of the Qadhafi government violated the UN arms embargo on Libya. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) Following the 2003-2004 removal of previous UN and EU sanctions on arms trade with Libya, the Qadhafi government moved to refill its depleted weapons stores. Part of its intent was to modernize its aging arsenal: in 2010 the Qadhafi government hosted Libdex, a major arms trade show in Tripoli, attended by 100 arms manufacturers from 24 countries. In addition to the high-tech communications, targeting, and other equipment provided by Russia, China, and Western powers, the Qadhafi government also acquired substantial quantities of small arms, field artillery, rockets, and man-portable missiles. In 2008, Libya acquired 200,000 rifles from Ukraine. In 2009, Italy and Belgium both provided significant stocks of modern pistols and rifles. Russia delivered an unknown quantity (likely in the hundreds) of Igla-S compact anti-aircraft missiles. The UK government stopped the delivery of 130,000 Kalashnikov rifles to Libya to prevent their diversion (or that of the weapons they would replace) to Darfur. In brief, contacts between the Qadhafi government and the global arms trading and manufacturing community up until the rebellion in Benghazi were excellent, both broad and deep.

3. (SBU) On February 26th, UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1970 imposed an arms embargo on Libya. On March 22nd, NATO launched Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, a maritime mission enforcing the arms embargo on Libya originally described in Resolution 1970 and the associated no-fly zone. During the next several weeks, several NATO nations, including France, Italy, and the UK, as well as nations associated with UNIFIED PROTECTOR such as Qatar and Tunisia, allowed weapons deliveries to the National Transitional Council (NTC), the Libyan faction in rebellion against the Socialist Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (SLAJ) governed by Moammar Qadhafi, arguing that Resolution 1970 applied only to the SLAJ. On September 16th, following the collapse of the SLAJ regime in Tripoli, UNSC Resolution 2009 ended the arms embargo.


4. (C) During the period of the arms embargo, NATO Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (JISR) teams monitored air, sea, and land approaches to Libya, within the constraints of available resources and competing mission priorities for tasked air and naval craft and personnel. Complicating the mission was the necessity to keep NATO-associated deliveries to the NTC literally “off the radar,” such that some approach vectors could not be continuously surveilled. Nevertheless, the UK Defence Intelligence (UKDI) and Italian Centro Intelligence Interforze (CII) analysts tasked for the purpose built a profile of likely entries of contraband arms into Libya. With the fall of the Qadhafi regime and the seizure by NTC forces of the former SLAJ government facilities, UKDI and CII harvested a considerable tranche of intelligence in many cases confirming their suspicions. The files, invoices, and other intelligence recovered from the former SLAJ ministries also indicates several entry points previously unsuspected by JISR analysts, leading to the assumption that even the confirmed deliveries may be understating the true magnitude of embargo violations in favor of SLAJ during the civil war.

4. (C) The following list of confirmed large-scale violations of the Libyan arms embargo in favor of SLAJ collates the findings of the UKDI and CII analysts, as presented to the NATO Joint Intelligence Clearinghouse on October 10th:

– On February 25th, a large shipment of arms probably originally intended for Hezbollah left Malta and arrived in Misurata the next night. Shipment included Italian-made small arms, light anti-tank weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, and a large quantity of 7.62mm and 9mm ammunition. Documents recovered in Tripoli implicate US national Beni Yussuf Tarras as the broker.

– Beginning March 1st, and continuing for at least two months thereafter, a Tu-154M made regular flights from Khartoum to the SLAJ stronghold of Sebha in the Fezzan desert. Over the course of these (best estimates between six and nine) flights, stocks of T-72 tank main gun and machine gun ammunition and spare parts, military radios, and at least 3,500 RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades, arrived in SLAJ arsenals. One document indicates that 50 Dragunov sniper rifles were part of one shipment; other one-off “special consignments” may have been included. Per ELINT sources, the broker is most likely Russian Army Maj. Yuri Sokholov.

– The Algerian military transferred $200 million worth of arms (primarily Kalashnikov rifles and other small arms, along with ammunition and rifle grenades) to the Qadhafi regime early in March. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army resupplied the Algerians immediately following. Intelligence indicates no funding changed hands, implying government-level (or ministerial-level) approval of the delivery both in Algiers and Beijing. The Algerian government also allowed at least 15 air shipments, the recruiting of mercenaries in Algeria, and the shipment of 500 military trucks to the SLAJ regime.

– From March 13th through August 2nd, several air cargo flights traveled between Mbandaka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tomboctou in Mali, using An-72s and Il-62s registered to the CEN-San Transit Company in Tripoli, Libya, a known front company of Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout. SLAJ recruiters hired Tuareg mercenaries in the northeastern districts of Mali, who traveled by truck across Algeria into Libya. Documents recovered in Tripoli indicate that the trucks, as well as small arms, uniforms, and ammunition were supplied by Bout. The trucks also carried specialized cargo, primarily specific spare parts for AFVs and artillery. Among the shipments paid for but not yet recovered are several Igla-S anti-aircraft missiles and at least one fully operational 9M133 Kornet missile system. These last may not have shipped from Russia, or may have been redirected along the way in the UAE or Congo.

– The Greek-flagged container ship MV Katerina transited the Suez Canal on April 19th, listing its port of departure as Karachi, Pakistan and its destination as Algiers. However, sonar signatures indicate it put in at Khoms in Libya on the night of April 22nd and unloaded several cargo containers. NRO surveillance data indicates the MV Katerina was in port at Gwadar, Pakistan on March 20th, possibly receiving a shipment of arms from China or Pakistan. Its cargo is unknown, but the SLAJ besiegers of Misurata received at least 65 replacement S-60 57mm artillery pieces and several thousand rounds of 57mm HEAP ammunition beginning April 23rd. Likewise, SLAJ forces in Tripoli received 100 rockets for their FROG-7 ballistic launchers during that time. Using data and account numbers provided by defecting SLAJ Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, OTFI checks of associated financial transfers indicate the source of the deal was a probable Russian national named Prugova, based in Peshawar, Pakistan.

– The Spanish-flagged container ship MV Carlos Tierce traveled between Algeciras, Spain, Tangier, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli seven times during the period of the embargo. Its manifest listed its cargo as processed food (primarily preserved citrus) and clothing, and it passed one full inspection by Spanish customs authorities on May 2nd. Documents recovered in Tripoli indicate it was a regular conduit for small arms and squad weapons (machine guns and mortars) to the SLAJ regime, mostly supplied from old ETA stocks in Spain. At least one cargo also included US-made Claymore mines, probably diverted from Moroccan army stocks. The broker for this traffic was Swiss passport-holder Georgiy Osetrov, who French Police Nationale sources identify as an “accountant” for Russian organized crime groups in Marseilles.

– From April 22nd through August 30th, several air cargo flights traveled between Cotonou, Benin and Tamanrasset, Algeria. They carried at least $150 million worth of arms (primarily Kalashnikov rifles and other small arms, but also RPG-7s and at least 40 French-made Mistral shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles) ostensibly destined for Algeria. However, they were diverted by Algerian Army Col. Abdallah Lamari to SLAJ forces operating in the western Libyan desert. Documents recovered in Tripoli indicate that the broker was the (Moldova-based) Pontus Development Corporation, which shows as its CFO one Lazar Kulibin, a Russian national. Kulibin sits on many corporate boards in Russia and the former Soviet Union, several of them implicated in Russian organized crime and arms trafficking.

– On September 1st, Algerian Army Major Nour-Eddin Brahimi, apparently acting on his own initiative, delivered 45 artillery pieces (of mixed caliber and vintage) to SLAJ forces at Sebha in the Fezzan via truck transport. A future deal to provide ammunition and spare parts for those weapons was negotiated but was aborted by the fall of the SLAJ regime.


X. (C) The SLAJ regime, while easily isolated diplomatically, proved capable of calling on deeper ties laid down prior to the current arms embargo. Existing arms traders proved capable of working out alternative supply routes or willing to risk interception even along established corridors given the potential profits involved. While Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR interdicted at least 50 attempted maritime shipments of oil or arms, and had an undeniable chilling effect on air supply of SLAJ forces, the cordon was far from airtight.

X. (C) Future arms embargoes, to be effective, will depend on more active use of intelligence sources and covert assets to detect and interfere with supply chains and suppliers. Given the amount of weaponry that a single shipping container can bring into play on the battlefield, and the difficulty of stopping and inspecting even all suspicious sea traffic, a strategy that concentrates solely on the delivery end cannot succeed. END COMMENT.

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