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Stinger Missile Threat to Commerical Aviation

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    Stinger Missile Threat to Commerical Aviation NOTE: Stinger missiles are mass-produced in Hong Kong and have been sold on the black market everywhere in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2002
      Stinger Missile Threat to Commerical Aviation

      NOTE: Stinger missiles are mass-produced in Hong Kong and have been
      sold on the black market everywhere in the world. With a stinger
      missile, one human on foot can shoot down a plane, if he has good

      The Stinger Missile Threat to Commerical Aviation

      It's the air industry's "dirty little secret"--more
      than 500 travelers and crew members on non-military
      flights have been killed in recent years as aerial
      ambushers use "Stinger"-type missiles with deadly

      The number of deaths from "man-portable surface to air
      missiles," deadly devices given the mnemonic MANPADS,
      appears to exceed the deaths from hijackings during
      the same years.

      There is very little that is presently being done to
      prevent terrorists from downing dozens, or even
      hundreds of civilian planes. While travelers are
      financing tens of millions of dollars in airline
      anti-hijacking programs around the world, the airlines
      themselves are just crossing their fingers and
      whistling through the graveyard when it comes to
      MANPADS. They're not doing anything about the problem
      and they're not telling travelers about it either.

      More than two dozen documented attacks against
      non-military aviation have killed more than 500 people
      in the last 15 years. The attacks have taken place on
      four continents--North America, Europe, Asia and

      In October of 1998 rebel fighters shot down a
      passenger jet with 40 people on board in eastern Congo.
      A missile strike on the rear engine of the Boeing jet
      caused the plane to crash shortly after take-off from
      Kindu airport. The plane, carrying women and children
      refugees, crashed into a densely forested area just
      outside of Kindu, about 620 miles east of the capital,
      Kinshasa. Spokesmen for the rebel force preparing to
      attack Kindu acknowledged downing the plane but said
      it was carrying 40 government soldiers to the city.

      There was a dispute over the plane's direction. The
      airline said it was hit minutes after takeoff, while
      rebels said they fired as the plane made its landing

      The rebels apparently used a SA-7, a Russian-made
      anti-aircraft missile with a launcher that looks like
      a bazooka.

      In June of 1996 security officials confiscated some
      surface-to-air missiles missiles--this time in
      Colombia--as they were preparing to blow that nation's
      president out of the sky. In March of 1997 there were
      reports that Iranian-backed Palestinian groups had
      acquired a supply of the missiles. Military analysts
      said they were threatening to reduce Israel's edge in
      fighting there by sweeping fighter-bombers from the
      sky. But the reality is that they could also be used,
      with more deadly effectiveness, against commercial
      aircraft from Bombay to Boston, Belfast to Buenos

      Air travel anywhere in the world--even in the United
      States-- is in danger from attacks by terrorists or
      people acting at the behest of rogue regimes. If the
      traveling public understood the potential danger, it's
      safe to say that airlines around the world lose so
      much business that many would go broke within six
      months. This is the travel industry's dirty little
      secret--and it is indeed a shameful one.

      The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), which is supposed
      to be the traveling public's guard dog, seems to have
      been guarding the airlines and their dirty little
      secret. The fact is they don't have an answer.The best
      semi-public information has come, surprisingly, from a
      State Department document on security practices.

      The document, Terrorist Tactics and Security Practices,
      was released in February 1994 by the Bureau of
      Diplomatic Security. The document, prepared by the
      bureau's Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis,
      is perhaps the best explanation of the problem made

      According to the diplomatically-couched wording of the
      State Department report "there is a growing body of
      evidence to suggest that the threat to civil aircraft
      emanating from terrorist groups, rebel militias and
      even criminal enterprises possessing MANPADS is an
      increasing possibility."

      "MANPADS were widely proliferated during the 1970s and
      1980s. Now, after 20 years of reported instances of
      SAMs in the hands of rebel militias, narco-criminals,
      and terrorist groups, the potential for increased SAM
      threats to civil aircraft has become a serious reality.
      Recent terrorism events such as the World Trade Center
      bombing, and those that were prevented, underscore the
      fact that fanatical elements were not deterred by the
      potential implications of mass casualties that could
      occur if a man-portable SAM were used against a
      commercial airliner."

      According to the State Department security report
      "another worldwide trend having implications for the
      safe passage of civil airliners is the growing
      instance of ethnic, religious, and civil unrest.
      Although the risk of a world war as at least
      temporarily passed, the ethnic and regional conflicts
      found in the four corners of the world indicate that
      perhaps our situation is more unstable than at any
      time in recent history. With this instability has come
      the risk of terrorism in new and more dangerous forms.
      Hundreds of MANPADs have fallen into the hands of
      ethnic militias that are battling against established

      The situation is actually worse than the report
      suggests. We know these weapons have made their way
      into the hands of narco-terrorists in drug producing
      regions around the world, from Colombia to Burma. Drug
      lords world-wide already have the technology in their
      arsenals--and there is every reason to point those
      missiles at U.S.-owned aircraft. We know that in
      January of 1990 CBS News authoritatively reported that
      Colombian narco-terrorists had acquired SA-7
      heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles and that they
      planned a shoot-down attempt against President Bush's
      plane at the February 15 drug summit in Colombia. As a
      result there were special security measures in place
      to thwart such an attack. About a month later the
      Colombian government said that 10 shoulder-fired
      anti-aircraft missiles were uncovered when agents
      raided a location in Bogota used as a hideout by drug
      cartels. Two men were arrested in the raid. And the
      threat, as it turned out, was proved to be real. In
      mid-1992 Thai border officers seized a Russian-made
      SAM-7 missile and arrested three men who were
      apparently taking them to Burmese drug warlord Khun Sa.
      Khun Sa, the region's drug kingpin who is under
      indictment by American authorities, isn't known as a
      great fan of America. And even at that time he was
      believed to have at least five SAM-7s. More missiles
      were seized in the fall of 1994 as they were being
      smuggled into Burma. These were apparently purchased
      from military people with access to them in Cambodia.

      If it were true that what you don't know won't hurt
      you, the world would be pretty well off with regard to
      these mini-SAMs. That's how little we know. But the
      old saw isn't true at all and our abysmal lack of
      knowledge may well prove deadly to hundreds--or even
      more--of commercial airline passengers.

      The State Department report alluded to our lack of
      knowledge: "(B)ecause of the very nature and
      characteristics of MANPADS, there is a great deal of
      uncertainty regarding their proliferation to and among
      terrorist groups, guerrilla movements and criminal
      elements. The real issue with regard to the potential
      use by a terrorist group in which groups have acquired
      MANPADs. The overriding concern in this regard is that
      the exact number and location of these systems cannot
      be accurately assessed due to the inherent
      characteristics of MANPADS--size, mobility and

      "While we don't know anywhere near enough, we do know
      is that rebels around the world have these surface to
      air missiles. While not all of the guerrillas and
      terrorists have employed them against civilian
      aviation, many have.

      They were used extensively in El Salvador, though not
      against civilian aviation. Rebels there had a
      collection of SAM-14s, SAM-7s and Redeye missiles.
      Similar missiles are known to have been used by
      guerrillas operating out of Costa Rica. The Sudanese
      People's Liberation Army in Sudan, Polisario Front
      guerrillas in Morocco, the National Union for the
      Total Independence of Angola, clans in Somalia,
      Abkazian rebels in Georgia, government opponents in
      Tunisia, and ZAPU insurgents in what is now Zimbabwe
      all have had access to these arms. We know that the
      Irish Republican Army and other groups involved in
      that long war are trying to get MANPADs, and in fact
      may already have them. The same goes for Croatian
      terrorists. Kashmiri secessionist groups are believed
      to have them.

      There are clear indications the Abu Nidal organization,
      one of the most effective of all terrorist groups in
      the world today and an organization which seems to
      specialize in attacking planes and airports, has
      potential or real access to them. There have been
      credible reports that both Iraq and Libya are willing
      to turn over quantities of these missiles to any
      terrorist or insurgent group willing to carry out
      specific missions for it.

      These problem areas pale when compared to the core
      problem--an explosive mixture of religious
      fundamentalism, anti-Israeli sentiment, and hundreds
      of unaccounted-for missiles given away by the U.S. to
      Afghan rebel groups.

      "MANPADS were widely used against Soviet military
      aircraft-- and at least five civilian aircraft--in
      Afghanistan. Many people from Moslem countries
      elsewhere around the world came to Afghanistan to
      'fight the infidel.' They became imbued with a
      religious fundamentalist spirit in their years there.
      Since the end of the war many have spread out across
      the globe to carry out attacks against more secular
      governments, from Cairo to Manila. Some of the
      suspects in the alleged terror ring that targeted the
      World Trade Center, as well as other landmarks and
      transportation targets, reportedly had links with the
      'Afghans' as the insurgents of diverse nationalities
      are known to security agencies.

      Stingers will be used against U.S. aircraft, at U.S.
      airports, sooner rather than later. Like the World
      Trade Center an airliner-- any airliner anywhere in
      the United States--represents a high- value, low risk
      target. The experience of the 'Afghans' in knocking
      down planes--including commercial jets--as well as
      their training place them among the most likely to use
      MANPAD technology against Western, particularly
      American, aircraft. These are well-trained and
      experienced men of war. They probably have the
      means--access to hundreds of 'Stinger'-type missiles
      are unaccounted for in the war- -as well as the motive
      and opportunity. *** Defining a problem is only half
      the solution. It is clear that the problem of MANPAD
      access by terrorist/insurgent groups and irresponsible
      military officials is not one that the traveler can
      address. There are things that the traveler can do to
      minimize the danger from these devices, however. In
      all cases it is important to keep a level head. A
      number such as 530+ seems large. It looms as a
      tremendously large figure if you, someone you love, or
      even if someone you know, is counted among the
      casualties. It is an infinitesimally small number when
      considering the number of passengers flying
      non-military flights during the period it covers. When
      compared with the number of people dead in hijackings
      during the same period, it gives pause as to whether
      the economics of anti-hijacking measures pencil out,
      or whether those represent a "make work" project that
      is as benign as it is expensive. If there is no "quick
      fix" or guaranteed solution for the traveler, there
      are steps the individual can take to lessen the
      dangers from MANPAD attacks. Under current


      Do not take aircraft into or through war zones,
      particularly into areas where a civil war is raging. A
      look at the history of MANPAD attacks shows that the
      vast majority of shoot-downs and attacks occurred in
      locations where a civil war was blazing. The reasons
      for this are beyond the scope of this paper, but it is
      an important point.

      Make yourself aware of locations where MANPADs are
      available to insurgent forces. Avoid all flying in
      those areas as well.

      When flying into, out of, or within a country (even a
      country where no reports of missile attacks have been
      received) use flights that routinely fly above 10,000
      ft. Many of the attacks involved planes flying "low
      and slow" over war zones. Bush pilots and "ground
      huggers" are more tempting targets than commercial
      flyers at high altitude. Staying high and going fast
      are not guarantees against a missile attack, however
      they increase the odds that one won't be fired. No one
      wants to "throw away" a MANPAD on a problematical
      target. Users want a 100 percent guarantee of hitting.

      United States

      Having fairly successfully predicted the type of
      attack, target, bomb and vehicle in the World Trade
      Center blast, we'll take another look into the crystal
      ball. It seems likely that foreign- born terrorists
      will target a commercial airliner landing or taking
      off from a U.S. airfield by the year 2000. The attack
      will probably be staged against a higher-value target
      (airliner vs. executive jet). It will likely be staged
      at an airport that has symbolic significance, such as
      New York Kennedy or La Guardia, Washington National or
      Dulles. Los Angeles International, Chicago O'Hare,
      Dallas-Ft. Worth and Atlanta's field also rank high on
      the list of possibilities. The attack will be mounted
      from a location between 1/2 and three miles from the
      end of the airport runway. There will be no warning of
      the attack, but news media will receive a call
      claiming the downing within 30 minutes of the attack.
      The aircraft will fall into urban areas, creating
      heavy secondary casualties. When flying in the U.S.,
      avoid the major hubs where possible. Use smaller
      airports where possible.

      Fly aircraft that make smaller, low-value targets
      insofar as this is consistent with general overall
      safety. Remember that in the past many smaller
      airlines have not had as good a safety record. Use
      teleconferencing, trains, and other forms of
      transportation/communication in lieu of flying.

      Related La Voz de Aztlan article:

      "Stinger Missile Threat to Airlines"

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
      Forwarded by
      La Voz de Aztlan



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