The United Nations believes the large cache of weapons from the recently ended Libyan civil war could make its way into the hands of members of the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram in Nigeria as well as other al Qaeda factions.
The report trails the impact of the Libyan civil war on countries of the Sahel region, including Nigerian, Niger and Chad and further explores links between Nigeria’s terrorist sect Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the north.
The U.N. Security Council met to discuss the report, which was prepared by a U.N. assessment team that met with officials from countries in the region. The discussion highlighted the deep divisions between Western powers and Russia over NATO’s intervention in the North African oil-producing state.
The report said: “The governments of the countries visited indicated that, in spite of efforts to control their borders, large quantities of weapons and ammunition from Libyan stockpiles were smuggled into the Sahel region.”
Such weapons include “rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns with anti-aircraft visors, automatic rifles, ammunition, grenades, explosives (Semtex), and light anti-aircraft artillery (light caliber bi-tubes) mounted on vehicles,” it said.
The report added that more advanced weapons such as surface-to-air-missiles and man-portable air defense systems, known as MANPADS, also may have reached groups in the region.
“Some of the weapons may be hidden in the desert and could be sold to terrorist groups like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram or other criminal organizations,” the U.N. report said.
However, Ian Martin, U.N. special envoy to Libya, has dismissed those claims, insisting that the weapons have remained, for the most part, in Libya.
While attacks by the Boko Haram sect has grown in sophistication and frequency, weapons still used by the sect are still largely locally made.
Improvised explosive devices discovered by security operatives in Kano, following the deadly attacks one week ago, comprised of aluminum cans of soda pop, filled with powdered explosives.
Chances of more sophisticated weapons making their way across borders and into the country, prove an even greater security threat to the troubled oil-rich nation.