Weapons are disappearing from Libyan government storehouses, raising concerns that they could end up in the hands of militants across Africa and beyond. In addition to the growing arms issue are concerns of how and when to release frozen government funds to the nation's rebels, who are still proving whether they can run the newly liberated nation.
"It's very hard to say what is actually out there. The large arsenals in the hands of Libyan armed forces have been plundered. This plundering has been very disorganized," Pieter Wezeman, a research arms transfer program research at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told the Media Line. "People walk in and take whatever they need and load them onto trucks. No one knows where those trucks are going."
Jihadists have seized weapons on numerous occasions throughout the rebellion. Early in the Libyan conflict, a group calling itself the "Islamic Emirate of Barqa" stormed a Libyan military depot and seized large quantities of weapons. According to Libyan newspaper Oea, the militants were former al-Qaida fighters who had been released from jail. In 2009, Al-Fallujah forum reported that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghrib [AQIM] managed to steal hundreds of rifles and grenades from a military base in Eastern Libya.
Besides weapons, questions remain about what to do with frozen Libyan assets. The New York Post reports that in New York alone, more than $1.1 billion worth of assets are being held. Goldman Sachs is reportedly holding of $604 million of Libyan government assets, while JPMorgan Chase has $513 million, and Wells Fargo and Bank of America have frozen sums under $1 million.
Cases of street justice against Gaddafi supporters, and even the lynching of darker Africans accused of being mercenaries of the regime, have raised concerns about the rebels' ability to govern and use transferred funds for civilian needs. Every new report of atrocities creates chaos and makes it more difficult for loyalist strongholds to surrender, and possibly face a vengeful justice.