Sep 28, 2011 2:46 AM GMT
The White House announced today it planned to expand a program to secure and destroy Libya's huge stockpile of dangerous surface-to-air missiles, following an ABC News report that large numbers of them continue to be stolen from unguarded military warehouses.
Currently the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in "explosive ordinance disposal", all working with the rebel Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.
"We expect to deploy additional personnel to assist the TNC as they expand efforts to secure conventional arms storage sites," Carney said. "We're obviously at a governmental level -- both State Department and at the U.N. and elsewhere -- working with the TNC on this."
ABC News reported today U.S. officials and security experts were concerned some of the thousands of heat-seeking missiles could easily end up in the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorists groups, creating a threat to commercial airliners.
"Matching up a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, that's our worst nightmare," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-California, a member of the Senate's Commerce, Energy and Transportation Committee.