A month after U.S. officials told ABC News they were moving quickly to secure unguarded weapons in Libya, human rights investigators have found a huge cache of unprotected weapons, including bombs, tank shells and dozens of surface-to-air missiles, in the city of Sirte.
“Anybody want a surface-to-air missile?” asks Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, in a video shot Sunday in near where Moammar Gadhafi and his son Mutassim made their last stand. Though the U.S. is rushing more and more specialists to Libya in a race to find the massive stores of weapons that have gone missing since the start of the Libyan uprising, Bouckaert beat them to Sirte.
Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro told ABC News that there was “obviously” a race to find the weapons before they fall into the hands of terrorists, “and that’s why we’re deploying people as quickly as we possibly can.” Shapiro said the U.S. plans to increase its presence on the ground from 10 teams of weapons specialists, or less than 35 people total, to 50 teams.
“We believe that based on our examination of the numerous sites that thousands of missiles were actually destroyed during the NATO bombing campaign,” said Shapiro, “and [that another] thousand missiles have been disabled or damaged.”