22. Stinger Missiles Sting
CHICAGO TRIBUNE Date: 12/6/92, Title: "CIA stung in Afghan missile deal,"
Author: Uli Schmetzer; SANTA ROSA (CA) PRESS DEMOCRAT NEWS SERVICES, Date: 7/24/93,
Title: "U.S. outbid for Stingers"
SSU Censored Researcher: Paul
SYNOPSIS: Now that the Cold War is over, the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) is desperately trying to buy back hundreds of the surface-to-air
Stinger missiles that it secretly gave Afghan guerrillas only a few
Stinger missile, a shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missile, is small enough to fit
in the trunk of a car but lethal enough to bring down an airliner. The missiles
can travel at 1,200 m.p.h. and while they can shoot down an airliner at an altitude
up to 15,000 feet, they are considered deadly accurate against aircraft in the
landing or take-off mode.
Originally, the missiles were given to the guerrillas
to help defeat the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. They were handed out to Afghanistan's
anti-Soviet insurgents in August 1986 in a covert operation run by the CIA. Flown
in on special CIA planes, the missiles were distributed among the guerrilla factions
by Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence.
Investigative journalist Uli Schmetzer
reported in December 1992 that the CIA, Pakistani Intelligence services, and Western
military attaches have collaborated in Operation MIAs (Missing-In-Action Stingers)
for more than two years trying to "pry the missiles from Afghan hands and
stop them from being sold to terrorist and separatist groups."
U.S. diplomats refused to comment, intelligence sources said the CIA's success
rate in repatriating the missiles was not good. When Schmetzer wrote his piece
last December, the CIA reportedly was offering as much as $70,000 for a missile
with an original cost of $20,000.
In July 1993, the CIA requested $55 million
to buy back the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. This extraordinary sum, more than
five times the last allocation for the covert Stinger buyback program, was needed
because of the fierce competition for the prized missiles on the international
according to knowledgeable sources.
that U.S. agents were being outbid for the missiles that now fetch upward of $100,000
a piece on the black market.
Somewhat ironically, the best barrier against
the Stingers falling into the wrong hands seems to be the reported "childlike
attachment" local commanders have to them. They are status symbols and military
toys of choice; commanders lose prestige when they sell them for money, said Abdul
Haq, commander of a once-powerful guerrilla faction in Afghanistan.
Haq reported that 24 Stingers already had fallen into the hands of Iran from pro-Iranian
One European military attaché reported that
every Western intelligence service is trying to help the Americans retrieve the
missiles "because all our governments are dead scared one of those things
is going to end up in the wrong hands."
COMMENTS: By November 21, 1993, the Stinger scandal had started
to receive more coverage as the Associated Press reported that "more
than 50,000 of the 4-foot-plus missiles have been produced for the U.S.
armed forces and 16 other governments."
While the article
noted that the missiles are kept under tight security, it confirmed that "hundreds
of other Stingers, shipped by the CIA to anti-Communist rebels in Afghanistan
and Angola, are believed to be feeding a multimillion-dollar black market."
It noted that the going market for Stingers in the Pakistani arms markets is now
more than $200,000, substantially more than the CIA reportedly had been offering.
also said that the Stingers are now believed to be deployed in at least five of
the world's small wars, including Somalia, and may have brought down aircraft
Uli Schmetzer, journalist with the Chicago Tribune and author of
the original Stinger source story, was on assignment in China and unavailable
to respond to our query.