We probably sold Iraq the live Hellfire missiles found on a passenger flight, headed for Oregon

We probably sold Iraq the live Hellfire missiles found on a passenger flight, headed for Oregon
AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on USMC AH-1W Super Cobra in 2005. (Image: Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons, Looper 5920)

The insanity continues to expand.

Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage pointed out earlier today that two live-round Hellfire missiles, which were detected by a dog on a plane that arrived in Serbia on Saturday, had come from Lebanon.  As he notes, Lebanon is “dominated by Iran and its Shiite terrorist allies” (principally Hezbollah).

It’s virtually certain that the U.S. government sold the Hellfires in question to Iraq, sometime in the last few years.  We’ve sold Iraq thousands of AGM-114 Hellfire IIs, in the K, N, and R variants.

Iraq, like Lebanon, is increasingly dominated by Shia allies of Iran.  Iran is deeply embedded with Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State, and there is nothing surprising about the (completely unauthorized) transfer of U.S. military weapons from the Iraqi forces, through Iranian Qods Force connections, to Hezbollah.

That’s quite probably how the two Hellfires that landed in Serbia, as cargo on a commercial passenger flight, came to be shipped out of Lebanon.

Fortunately, security working dogs in Belgrade sniffed out the live rounds.  Otherwise, they would probably have gone on to Portland, or at least to a first entry point into the U.S.  (The missiles were contracted for shipment to Portland, according to news reports, but we don’t know what their complete route from Belgrade to Portland would have been.)

The interesting thing about this – besides the surreal, live-warhead missile aspect – is that the direct link appears to be to Iran-backed Shias.  At each link in the chain, that is the simplest possibility.

ISIS and Al-Qaeda are Sunnis – and neither outfit is plugged in directly with a national army that has authorized access to Hellfires.  Nor would a flight from Lebanon be their first choice to move Hellfire missiles to the U.S.

That said, a commercial flight to Portland doesn’t seem like the lowest-profile course anyone could pursue to get missiles into North America.  Cargo of that kind would be moved far less detectably by getting it into the Caribbean and putting it on a yacht.

We don’t know at the moment the scope of everything that lies behind this.  But it’s a wake-up call against complacency regarding the potential for a terror threat with direct Iranian involvement.  There’s no room for assumptions about how well it will be handled these days, but we can hope every possible string will be pulled in Lebanon and Serbia, as well as the addressee in Oregon, to uncover the whole iceberg.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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