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Monday, December 18, 2006

Missing Australian Rocket Launchers May Be Bound for Black Market: Report

Agence France-Presse: Australian counter-terrorism police fear rogue elements in the country’s military may have sold rocket launchers and explosives to criminals and possibly terrorists, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Dec. 15.

New South Wales state counter-terrorism police are overseeing an investigation by the Middle East Crime Squad trying to locate eight of nine anti-tank weapons it suspects have been stolen from the army for use within Australia, said the newspaper.

The Herald said police had done a deal with one of the country’s top criminals, now in jail for murder, which resulted in an intermediary being paid A$50,000 (U.S. $39,000) and the recovery of one anti-tank weapon and some 250 kilograms of explosives.

It said police suspect the weapon was stolen from the army but identifying the origins of the weapon was difficult as the serial number had been filed off.
A New South Wales police spokeswoman told Reuters that police would not comment on the Herald report.

Australia is a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Its four-level National Counter-Terrorism Alert system has been set at the second-lowest level of medium, meaning an attack could occur, since soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

While Australians have been targeted in terrorist attacks on foreigners in neighboring Indonesia, Australia has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil.
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