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Posted: 10/16/2001 2:35:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2001 2:32:43 AM EDT by mr_wilson]
Found this on Drudge this AM: Tuesday October 16 1:50 AM ET [b]U.S. Gave Sniper Rifles to Afghanistan[/b] By D. IAN HOPPER, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - More than a decade ago, the U.S. government sent 25 high-powered sniper rifles to a group of Muslim fighters in Afghanistan that included Osama bin Laden, according to court testimony and the guns' maker. The rifles, made by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. of Tennessee and paid for by the government, were shipped during the collaboration between the United States and Muslims then fighting to drive the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Experts doubt the weapons could still be used, but the transaction further accentuates how Americans are fighting an enemy that U.S. officials once supported and liberally armed. In a trial early this year of suspects in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, Essam Al-Ridi, identified as a former pilot for bin Laden, said he shipped the weapons in 1989 to Sheik Abdallah Azzam, bin Laden's ideological mentor. The weapons had range-finding equipment and night-vision scopes. During the late 1980s, the United States supplied arms worth $500 million a year to anti-Soviet fighters including Afghanistan's current Taliban rulers, bin Laden and others. The supplies included a range of weapons from small arms to shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
Link Posted: 10/16/2001 2:36:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2001 2:31:54 AM EDT by mr_wilson]
[b]part 2[/b] Al-Ridi, an American citizen born in Egypt, testified that Azzam liked the rifles because they could be ``carried by individuals so it's made in such a way where you could have a heavy cannon but mobile by an individual.'' While in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Ridi said he saw bin Laden several times with Azzam. Ronnie Barrett, president of Murfreesboro, Tenn.-Barrett Firearms, likened sale of the .50-caliber armor-piercing rifles to the supply of the Stinger surface-to-air missiles given to anti-Soviet guerrillas in Afghanistan. ``Barrett rifles were picked up by U.S. government trucks, shipped to U.S. government bases and shipped to those Afghan freedom fighters,'' Barrett said. The sale was publicized by the Violence Policy Center, gun-control advocates who want for more restrictions on the sale of high-powered weapons such as the specialized Barrett exports. ``These .50-caliber sniper rifles are ideal tools for terror and assassination,'' VPC analyst Tom Diaz said. Firearms expert Charles Cutshaw of Jane's Information Group said he was more worried about the Stingers than long-range sniper rifles. ``It seems to me that there are easier ways for a terrorist to get at a high-value target than this,'' Cutshaw said. ``If they wanted to bring down an aircraft, the best way would be to bring it down with a Stinger.'' Guerrillas using Stingers were credited with shooting down more than 270 Soviet aircraft. The sniper rifles are ``sort of overkill'' for shooting people, Cutshaw said, although the Irish Republican Army has used one to assassinate British officials. More appropriate targets, he said, would be vehicles or fuel tanks. The rifles could be used only with U.S.-made ammunition, but such ammunition can be obtained in neighboring Pakistan, Cutshaw said. The Barrett rifles sold for $5,000 to $6,000 each, and both Barrett and Cutshaw had doubts they would still work due to dust and a lack of spare parts. But the rifles could be functional if they have been kept in storage since the purchase, Barrett said. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan months after the rifles were sold. ``If it's not used, it could work,'' Barrett said. ``Age will not bother the gun, just usage.'' - On the Net: Violence Policy Center: [url]http://www.vpc.org[/url] Barrett Firearms Manufacturing: [url]http://www.barrettrifles.com[/url] [b] Notice they forgot to mention range of B50[/b]. Mike
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