Israeli officials told Yedioth Ahronoth Daily that a Stela shoulder-launched surface-to-air missle targeted an Israeli military helicopter last week in the Gaza Strip but missed. This is the first terrorist attempt of using these weapons against Israel.
Israel has long suspected Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza of having such weapons, and amid the chaos accompanying the downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya many went missing, and more are believed to have been smuggled into the Strip, via tunnels from the Sinai peninsula.
Soviet-designed Strela-2 missiles (known by NATO as SA-7 Grail) have been used in various insurgencies around the world, including the mujahedeen’s fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and the anti-coalition insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.
MANPAD’ ease of operation, portability and relatively low cost make them a weapon of choice for terrorists wanting to target civilian or military aircraft.
The reported use of a MANPAD by Gaza-based terrorists came during the same week as Hezbollah, the Shi’ite Iranian proxy in Lebanon, deployed a drone aircraft over Israel.
NATO officials. About 5,000 are SAM-7. The SAM-7 is a crude weapon with a range of about four kilometers and an infra-red guidance system. The systems are powered by a thermal battery, operated by a single person, and are simple enough so that a couple of hours of training would suffice for mastering their operation.
The Army’s Lt. Col. Andy Wood, who led a 16-person security team in Libya testified about Al Qaeda's Libyan presence:
"their presence grows every day. They are certainly more established than we are.”Digital Journal reported in February 2012:
He also said that some 10,000 to 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles are missing from Libyan arsenals.
The U.S. government has allocated $40 million in an attempt to secure the weapons stockpiles...
In a November CNN interview, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers expressed reservations that “very undisciplined” Libyan troops will “secure the weapons sites” until stability returns to Libya.
On the same day of Rogers’ interview, a North African commander with Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb said his group was in possession of some of the weapons, looted during the conflict for control of Libya.Russian-made SA-14 and SA-24 MANPADS are more effective and make up some portion of the missiles that fell into the hands of Al Qaeda in Libya.
The Wall Street Journal added that MANPADS traveled to Syrian rebels through Turkey and Palestinian militants:
Most of the shoulder-fired missiles in rebel arsenals have come from Libya, smuggled into the country through the Turkish border without the official blessing of regional states or their Western backers, several rebel coordinators said.
Other shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles, which these rebels identified as Russian-made Strela systems, have been supplied by militant Palestinian factions now supporting the Syrian uprising and smuggled in through the Lebanese border, they said. Syrian military defectors also say they have been able to buy some SA-7's—a Russian-designed Manpad—from regime forces since the summer.
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), a staunch and consistent opponent of American intervention in the Middle East, reminded everyone that:
•Our bombing and destruction of Libya was not authorized.
•Obama never received approval from Congress for any of the actions America took in that war