This is what happens when you hand out weapons as if they were candy

In its efforts to supply so-called ‘moderate’ or ‘anti-government’ groups in Syria, it looks like the USA and Europe ended up supplying ISIS and other radicals instead.  The Telegraph reports:

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants relied heavily on guns and ammunition produced by Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Germany, a report released on Thursday by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an international organisation that documents weapons trafficking in war zones, revealed.

. . .

Their 200-page report provides the most comprehensive, verified study of the group’s weapons to date, presenting an analysis of more than 40,000 items recovered from Isil forces over three years.

It concludes that international weapon supplies intended for rebel factions in the Syrian conflict ended up with Isil, “significantly augmenting the quantity and quality of weapons in its arsenal”.

In the early phase of the conflict, most of the group’s cache had been captured from Iraqi and Syrian forces. But from the end of 2015, CAR started to see another significant source – factories in Eastern Europe.

The weapons and ammunition was being manufactured in Europe, sold to the US and Saudi Arabia, and transported across the Turkish border into Syria.

They said supplies of weapons by the Washington and Riyadh to Syrian opposition groups indirectly allowed Isil to obtain a substantial amount of sophisticated anti-armour ammunition and anti-tank guided weapons (ATGW), which have then been used against coalition forces they support.

“Time and again, states that seek to accomplish short-term political objectives supply weapons to groups over whom they exert little to no control,” said James Bevan, the executive director of CAR. “These weapons often gravitate to the most organised and effective rebel and insurgent forces.”

In one case CAR tracked a number of advanced ATGWs. Using their production numbers they discovered they were manufactured in the EU, sold to the US, which supplied them to an opposition group in Syria, where they were then transferred to Isil fighters in Iraq.

The full chain of transactions occurred within two months of the weapons’ dispatch from the factory.

In another instance, in October 2014, Romania sold 9,252 rocket-propelled grenades, known as PG-9s, to the US military.

The grenades were sent by the US to Jaysh Suriyah al-­Jadid, a Syrian militia armed and trained by America to fight Isil in the east of the country.

But somehow, PG-9s from this same shipment made their way to neighbouring Iraq, where Isil experts separated the stolen warheads from the original rocket motors before adding new features that made them better suited for urban combat such as the battle for Mosul.

There’s more at the link.

There’s nothing new about this sort of thing, of course. I can recall black-painted C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft arriving in the dead of night in the African bush, laden with weapons for pro-US movements in their fight against Communist-dominated governments in more than one country.  During the 1980’s, the USA supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to UNITA in Angola, under the strict condition that they not be allowed to fall into the hands of its South African allies.  That didn’t stop several of the missiles from making their way to a very interested technical analysis team in Pretoria, along with SA-7SA-8, SA-9, SA-14 and SA-16 missiles captured from Angolan forces.  (The Russian manufacturer of the SA-16 later proudly referenced South African tests showing ‘the Igla’s superiority over the … Stinger missile’.  That amuses the heck out of me, since I watched some of those tests!  Yes, the SA-16 [which appeared to copy many features of the Stinger, leading us to nickname it, in pidgin Russian, the ‘Stingerski’] did appear to be a more capable missile at the time.)

There’s no easy way to avoid arming one’s enemies in such a confused situation.  One either accepts that risk, or withholds arms altogether.  The latter is safer, but can get one’s allies chopped up by other groups whose supporters are less scrupulous about providing weapons.



  1. Dang, and we have to buy our own at gun shows, gun shops and sporting goods stores. Plus we can't get the fun stuff the Fes are giving away. Plus the FedGov is trying to find ways to keep us from having the ability to even buy our own. What do we have to do to get into that pipeline? Start a revolution?

  2. There are limits to your control if you don't want boots on the ground.
    Even an A-team (or twenty) can't be everywhere, and the weapons' security is only ever as good as Hadji's is, as well as his vetting process for recruits.

    If you want to ensure that all your ordnance ends up in the right places, it's best to send it in, not via a C-130, but via an MC-130 – from altitude.

    First guy to do that, every time, all the time, is on the right track.

  3. Their messiah has been out of office long enough for the media to report to America how we trained, armed, and paid obamas rape and death squads in Syria.

  4. As you say, there's no way to avoid this. Examples abound throughout history, from Afghanistan to the Boer War, when the "bitter-enders" were armed mostly with Enfield rifles, and on back. Some of your readers may recall an old story of a Confederate prisoner seeing a battery of 12-pounder US-made field guns and saying "Y'all got almost as many of those guns as we have". When one side notices that the other has some really superior equipment, they start looking to acquire quantities of it.

  5. I recall reading that Confederate cavalry made a point of gathering weapons (primarily revolvers) from their captured or dead US counterparts.

    Matter of fact, I remember a writer of Westerns who noted that in one of his books. Fellow by the name of "Grant", I think 😉

  6. The only 2 battles that did not subsidize battlefield pickup were Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    And, those battles were both decisive, and did not need reiteration with said opponent.

  7. "So Achmed, you like your family alive? Just leave a crate or 2 of Ameican Infadel weapons from your next truck load off at this location. Oh and we'll give you a couple of dinars to bribe the supply men."

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *