The Online Trade of Light Weapons in Libya

A study by the Small Arms Survey finds that the revolution in Libya, and its aftermath, have paved the way for a large illicit arms trade to emerge.

Many of the players in this new market have begun to use new technologies to hawk their wares, with online sales via social media platforms being one of the tools currently used.

Key findings include:

  • Large and important population centres remain the most active areas for the illicit online arms trade.
  • The availability of light weapons in online markets may reflect the needs of Libya’s non-state armed groups: evidence suggests that some purchasers and sellers have ties to armed groups and their purchases are related to the needs of these groups, while sales may be designed to dispose of unwanted, unusable, or obsolete arms from these groups.
  • Light weapons are more expensive than small arms, which may indicate that the market for light weapons is limited to well-financed armed groups rather than individuals.
  • The relative absence of certain light weapons (most notably mortars and crew-served recoilless guns) from online arms-trading platforms is noteworthy, given the substantial numbers of such weapons possessed by both the Qaddafi regime and rebel forces during the 2011 revolution.
  • Most of the light weapons for sale originate from pre-1992 imports by the Qaddafi regime, although some systems were imported during the 2003-2011 period, and one possibly after 2011.
  • The majority of light weapons for which the country of origin can be conclusively identified are from the former Warsaw Pact region, including the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.

The full report can be downloaded here.

(Source: Small Arms Survey)

(Arms image via Shutterstock)

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