One member of the HI team holds up a device that was the nightmare of Western intelligence services: a very small anti-aircraft missile that can easily bring down a passenger jet. Thousands of the portable systems were reportedly stored in Libyan warehouses, and many of them have now gone missing.

I am always amazed that we are surprised when we discover stacks and stacks of deadly surface to air rockets in countries which have no business having them. Just one can bring down a commercial jet liner. How do dictators like Moammar Gadhafi even get these? In this case the hand-held surface to air missiles were presumably supplied to Gadhafi by the Soviets or else bought on the black market.

Like so many modern weapon systems, the surface to air missile was originally invented in Nazi Germany during World War Two. Other charming inventions by the Germans included the assault rifle, night vision goggles, swept-wing jet fighter, ballistic missiles, missiles launched from submarines, the cruise missile – on and on.

Rheintochter R1 surface to air missile developed by Germany during World War Two.

[Source: Der Spiegel. Images courtesy of Der Spiegel and Wikipedia.]