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Jim Rogers: ‘I Am Looking For More Investments In Asia And In Russia’

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers is bullish on Asia (China in particular) and Russia. As recent as April 6, I blogged about a GoldSeek.com Radio interview (released April 1) in which the former investing partner of George Soros said:

I own Chinese renminbi. I own Chinese shares… I bought recently some Russian government short-term bonds in rubles.

He added later:

There are other places I’m looking at but I’m really not very active at all. I’m mainly just watching the world unfold. Be knowledgeable, be worried, and be prepared.

That last sentence is indicative of a lot of what Rogers has been sharing with the investing public lately.

Still, it’s being reported that the CEO of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc. is actively looking for places to put his substantial “war chest” ($300 million estimated net worth) to work. Katya Golubkova wrote on the Reuters website last Tuesday:

Veteran U.S. investor Jim Rogers is looking at possible investments into Russian oil firm Bashneft (BANE.MM) and diamond miner Alrosa (ALRS.MM) as he aims to add more Russian assets to his portfolio, he told Reuters…

“If they (Bashneft and Alrosa) are not under sanctions, I will take a look – as I said, I am looking for more investments in Asia and in Russia but I am an American and I have to be a little bit careful.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Golubkova added:

He already has interests in Russian state airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), the Moscow Exchange (MOEX.MM) and fertilizer producer PhosAgro (PHOR.MM). He owns some exchange traded funds (ETFs) and is investing in Russian treasury bonds.

“I am looking for more investments in Russia. I am trying to buy into a Russian tourist company, I am optimistic about Russian tourism,” Rogers said, adding that he was also looking to buy more stocks of Russian agriculture companies

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A little over a year ago, I discussed an April 6, 2015, Reuters piece in which Yelena Orekhova and Olga Popova wrote:

Russia could now be “the right place at the right time” for investors, he said. His own portfolio consists largely of Russian shares, he said, among them fertiliser company Phosagro , airline Aeroflot and the Moscow Exchange…

About those “Russian government short-term bonds in rubles” mentioned a week-and-a-half ago, Rogers expounded in the April 12, 2016, Reuters article:

“If I got a chance I would probably buy more,” Rogers said, adding that he was only investing in Russian rouble bonds, not Eurobonds.

“I want to buy rouble bonds, I am more optimistic about rouble bonds than I am in Eurobonds. Rouble bonds have much higher yields.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nice work by Reuters for staying on top of Rogers’ (potential) Russian investments.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

Source:

Goubkova, Katya. “Veteran U.S. investor Rogers looks to add more Russia to portfolio.” Reuters. 12 Apr. 2016. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-rogers-idUSKCN0X90SC). 17 Apr. 2016.

Jim Rogers’ latest book…

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Monday, April 18th, 2016 Agriculture, Asia, Bonds, Commodities, Crash Prophets, Currencies, Emerging Markets, Energy, Europe, Exchange-Traded Funds, Gemstones, Investing, Natural Resources, Stocks, Tourism Comments Off on Jim Rogers: ‘I Am Looking For More Investments In Asia And In Russia’

Jim Rogers Still Bullish On Russian Stocks

Despite the near-constant stream of bad news coming from the mainstream financial media about Russia these days, well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers appears to still be bullish on Russian stocks. Yelena Orekhova and Olga Popova reported on the Reuters website Monday:

Now may be the time to invest in Russian shares because oil prices have hit bottom and the Russian stock market is rising, veteran U.S. financier Jim Rogers said on Monday.

“I’m very optimistic about the future of Russia,” he told a conference in Moscow arranged by investment firm BCS. “Certainly one of the most attractive stock markets in the world these days for me is Russia.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Orekhova and Popova added:

Russia could now be “the right place at the right time” for investors, he said. His own portfolio consists largely of Russian shares, he said, among them fertiliser company Phosagro , airline Aeroflot and the Moscow Exchange.

The country’s economic downturn may make it an unlikely investment prospect, he said, but he was optimistic the stock market was going to rise more

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might recall the former investing partner of George Soros having been bullish on the aforementioned Russian equities for some time. I noted back on November 25, 2014:

Izabella Kaminska reported on the Financial Times (UK) daily news and commentary blog today:

Russian investments now include stakes in fertiliser maker Phosagro, airliner Aeroflot, a Russia ETF and the Russian stock exchange, but he said was looking to expand into different sectors as well…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to that Reuters piece:

He also recommended buying short-term Russian treasury bills for investors with a one-year horizon.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Orekhova, Yelena and Popova, Olga. “US financier Rogers says now may be time to invest in Russia.” Reuters.com. 6 Apr. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/06/russia-crisis-stocks-idUSL6N0X311W20150406). 6 Apr. 2015.

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 Agriculture, Crash Prophets, Europe, Exchange-Traded Funds, Investing, Stocks, Transportation Comments Off on Jim Rogers Still Bullish On Russian Stocks

Al-Qaeda European Passenger Jet Attack Plot Latest

On November 30 I blogged about the Sunday Express (UK) reporting Al-Qaeda was plotting to blow up five European passenger jets before Christmas.

Monday a FOX News Alert elaborated on the supposed plot:


“Experts warn of ‘spectacular’ Al Qaeda plot for Christmas”
FOX News Video

Two things to keep in mind while watching the video featuring FOX News terror analyst Walid Phares:

1. Phares warned:

Al-Qaeda is determined to do something to compete with ISIS against us.

As I blogged back on August 29:

Much of the mainstream media is playing up the threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State. Personally, I’m more concerned about Al-Qaeda beating them to the punch. I’ve already talked about Ayman al-Zawahiri needing to establish his “street cred.” But the emergence of the other band of terrorists formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) puts even more pressure, I suspect, for bin Laden’s standard bearers to carry out a successful major operation against the U.S. homeland, and with haste.

2. Phares suggested the plot could just be a deception, and Americans should look out for mass shootings and other terrorist acts right around Christmas

I’ve been warning about a terrorist attack in the form of a mass shooting for a while now on this blog, the first time being way back in April 2011. It’s a real threat in my opinion.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 Europe, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Preparedness, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel, War Comments Off on Al-Qaeda European Passenger Jet Attack Plot Latest

Al-Qaeda Targeting 5 European Passenger Jets Before Christmas?

And just when you thought Al-Qaeda had been relegated to the tabloids comes this from the website of the Sunday Express (UK)- a British tabloid. Donal MacIntyre reported Sunday:

EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda plot to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas ‘spectacular’

TERRORISTS are plotting to blow up five European passenger jets in a Christmas “spectacular”, security experts say

The warning comes as Whitehall officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now “almost inevitable” particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

An airport security source told the Sunday Express: “We’ve been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They’ve been waiting for the big one.

“We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real.”

According to MacIntyre, the plot was uncovered by U.S. intelligence.

Take the above for what it’s worth. That being said, I blogged back on August 29:

Much of the mainstream media is playing up the threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State. Personally, I’m more concerned about Al-Qaeda beating them to the punch. I’ve already talked about Ayman al-Zawahiri needing to establish his “street cred.” But the emergence of the other band of terrorists formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) puts even more pressure, I suspect, for bin Laden’s standard bearers to carry out a successful major operation against the U.S. homeland, and with haste.

Still feel the same way as 2014 rapidly comes to a close…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

MacIntyre, Donal. “EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda plot to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas ‘spectacular.’” Sunday Express. 30 Nov. 2014. (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/541725/REVEALED-Al-Qaeda-plot-to-blow-up-5-European-passenger-jets-in-Christmas-spectacular). 30 Nov. 2014.

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Sunday, November 30th, 2014 Europe, Government, Middle East, Public Safety, Religion, Security, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel Comments Off on Al-Qaeda Targeting 5 European Passenger Jets Before Christmas?

Jim Rogers Details Russian Investments, Shares Outlook For Developed Economies

While searching for the latest activity from the “crash prophets” this morning I came across an insightful piece on well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers on FT Alphaville. Izabella Kaminska reported on the Financial Times (UK) daily news and commentary blog today:

Rogers’ Russian investments now include stakes in fertiliser maker Phosagro, airliner Aeroflot, a Russia ETF and the Russian stock exchange, but he said was looking to expand into different sectors as well…

Rogers’ bullish view on Russia contrasts significantly with his outlook for Europe, Japan and the United States. Regarding Japan, Rogers proposed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was doing “terrible things” to Japan and advised young Japanese to leave the country as soon as they possibly could to avoid losses. However, in the short-term, he believed there were also opportunities in the stock market as a result of the extraordinary central bank action.

Regarding the Eurozone, Rogers said he didn’t own any euros, nor did he want to because he would rather buy Russia.

As ever, his outlook for developed economies remained bleak on the basis that central banks had debased the currency and that government statistics were lying about the true state of inflation in the land…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of Survival And Prosperity that the former investing partner of George Soros has been investing in Russia (blogged about in May here).

Rogers shared with the Financial Times his reasons for selecting the above Russian investments. Good stuff by Kaminska and FT Alphaville, which you can read in its entirety here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 Agriculture, Asia, Banking, Crash Prophets, Currencies, Europe, Exchange-Traded Funds, Farming, Government, Inflation, Investing, Natural Resources, Stocks, Travel Comments Off on Jim Rogers Details Russian Investments, Shares Outlook For Developed Economies

Terrorists Planning On Kidnapping Americans, Attacking Water Systems As Well As Airlines Again?

There is quite a lot of terrorism talk going on these days in the mainstream media outlets. On October 10, Mike Deeson reported on the website of Tampa Bay CBS affiliate 10 News about potential terrorist “dry-runs” on the airlines. Deeson wrote:

A memo obtained by the 10 News investigators from the union that represents pilots for US Airways says that “there have been several cases recently throughout the (airline) industry of what appear to be probes, or dry-runs, to test our procedures and reaction to an in flight threat.”

In a September 2 incident aboard a flight from Reagan National Airport to Orlando International Airport:

Crew members say that shortly after takeoff, a group of four “Middle Eastern” men caused a commotion.

The witnesses claim one of the men ran from his seat in coach, toward the flight deck door. He made a hard left and entered the forward bathroom “for a considerable length of time.”

While he was in there, the other three men proceeded to move about the cabin, changing seats, opening overhead bins, and “generally making a scene.” They appeared to be trying to occupy and distract the flight attendants.

“He made a hard left and entered the forward bathroom ‘for a considerable length of time.'” The other three men acting all anxious?

Could’ve been an earlier “chow call” gone horribly wrong with a subsequent frantic search for the Imodium A-D that was packed away in their checked-in luggage.

All kidding aside, both US Airways and the Transportation Security Administration confirmed the incident for 10 News investigators, and there’s been a Congressional call for an investigation of the matter according to a later 10 News piece.

On October 18, possible terrorist activity directed against Midwestern municipal water systems was reported on the Kansas City Star website. According to the paper:

The FBI is investigating a threat against water systems in four Midwestern cities, including Wichita, Kan.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Friday the FBI hasn’t substantiated any threats to the four cities. She would not name those cities, saying only that they were confined to the Midwest.

Finally, last weekend it was reported that intelliegence sources have informed FOX News there’s been significant Internet chatter by terrorists urging followers to kidnap Americans overseas:


“U.S. uncovers new terror threats from Al Shabab”
FOX News Video

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Deeson, Mike. “10 News Investigators find memo warning about terrorist “dry-runs” on airplanes.” 10 News Tampa Bay. 10 Oct. 2013. (http://www.wtsp.com/news/topstories/article/339104/0/INVESTIGATORS-Memo-warns-of-terrorist-dry-runs-on-planes). 24 Oct. 2013.

“FBI investigating threat to water systems in Midwestern cities.” Kansas City Star. 18 Oct. 2013. (http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/18/4561155/fbi-investigating-threat-to-water.html). 24 Oct. 2013.

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Thursday, October 24th, 2013 Government, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel, War, Water Comments Off on Terrorists Planning On Kidnapping Americans, Attacking Water Systems As Well As Airlines Again?

British Intelligence: Al-Qaeda Plotting To Blow Up U.S. Passenger Jet

Has an Al-Qaeda-trained terrorist of Norwegian descent finally received his marching orders? From the Daily Mail (UK) website yesterday:

A terrorist plot to blow up a U.S. passenger jet timed to coincide with the Olympics has been uncovered by security agencies, according to intelligence sources.

Al Qaeda intended to use a radicalised Norwegian Islamic convert to attack U.S. planes in the build-up to the London Games – which start in 26 days on July 27 – it is understood.

The plan centred on using the so-called ‘clean skin’ – a terrorist with no previous criminal record and are unlikely to raise suspicions among the security services – in order to evade airport security…

It is believed the suspect tasked with the attack uses the Islamic name Muslim Abu Abdurrahman, had converted to Islam in 2008, and was recruited in a terrorist training camp in Yemen, sources told the Sunday Times.

According to the Daily Mail piece, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), based in Yemen, is thought to be behind this plot. As far as I know, there’s no comment yet from U.S. officials regarding the plan. However, CBS News picked up the story this morning, and from their website:

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former Deputy Director of National Intelligence, said that despite foiled bomb plots targeting airliners, al Qaeda has not lost its fascination with commercial aviation – and that AQAP (al Qaeda’s branch based in Yemen) has been specifically assigned to find a way to blow up a U.S. plane.

“They were the architects of the first underwear bomb, they were the architects of the ingenious printer bomb which was interdicted before it could go off,” Miller said. “And I think what we’re seeing once again is they’ve tried to put a bomb on a person and get them on a plane. Whether it has anything to do with the Olympics or the Fourth of July – one of the chosen target holidays by bin Laden – is something we don’t yet know.


“Norwegian At Center Of New Al Qaeda Plot Fears”
CBS News Video

Sources:

“Al Qaeda ‘plot to blow up passenger jet’ in run up to Olympics uncovered by security forces.” Daily Mail. 1 July 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167166/Al-Qaeda-plot-blow-passenger-jet-run-Olympics-discovered-security-forces.html). 2 July 2012.

“Norwegian at center of new al Qaeda plot fears.” CBS News. 2 July 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57464755/norwegian-at-center-of-new-al-qaeda-plot-fears/). 2 July 2012.

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Monday, July 2nd, 2012 Middle East, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel Comments Off on British Intelligence: Al-Qaeda Plotting To Blow Up U.S. Passenger Jet

‘Shadow CIA’ Discloses Threat From Missing Libyan Missiles

Speaking of terrorism this lovely second morning of summer (first time in days the forecast isn’t calling for 90 degree plus weather here in Chicago), remember when I blogged about the following threat to worldwide aviation coming out of a Qaddafi-less Libya in North Africa? From September 27 last year:

Flying the friendly skies just got more dangerous.

According to officials at a recent secret White House meeting, around 20,000 portable surface-to-air missiles have gone missing in Libya.

By the way, these missiles have the capability of bringing down commercial airliners.

On January 30, 2012, I updated Survival And Prosperity readers with the following:

20,000 portable SAMs originally reported missing. 5,000 recovered to-date.

That still leaves 15,000 missiles unaccounted for.

And just a couple of weeks ago on May 3, I received the following Security Weekly report from the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (commonly referred to as the “Shadow CIA” in the MSM), that talked in-depth about the Libyan missiles. STRATFOR analyzed the danger of these man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) being used against civilian aircraft in a terrorist attack.

Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:

The Continuing Threat of Libyan Missiles

By Scott Stewart

In March 2011, while many of the arms depots belonging to the government of Libya were being looted, we wrote about how the weapons taken from Libyan government stockpiles could end up being used to fuel violence in the region and beyond. Since then we have seen Tuareg militants, who were previously employed by the regime of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, leave Libya with sizable stockpiles of weapons and return to their homes in northern Mali, where they have successfully wrested control of the region away from the Malian government.

These Tuareg militants were aided greatly in their battle against the government by the hundreds of light pickup trucks mounted with crew-served heavy weapons that they looted from Libyan depots. These vehicles, known as “technicals,” permitted the Tuareg rebels to outmaneuver and at times outgun the Malian military. Moreover, we have recently received reports that Tuareg rebels also brought back a sizable quantity of SA-7b shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles, also known as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

While we have not yet seen reports of the Tuaregs using these missiles, reports of close interaction between the Tuaregs in northern Mali and regional jihadist franchise al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) raise concern that AQIM could buy or somehow acquire them from the Tuaregs. We have seen unconfirmed reports of AQIM fighters possessing MANPADS, and Algerian authorities have seized MANPADS among the weapons being smuggled into the country from Libya. For example, in mid-February, Algerian authorities seized 15 SA-24 and 28 SA-7 Russian-made MANPADS at a location in the southern desert called In Amenas.

For the Tuareg militants, the MANPADS are seen as a way to protect themselves against attack by government aircraft. They also serve the same function for AQIM, which has been attacked by Mauritanian aircraft in northern Mali. However, the possession of such weapons by a group like AQIM also raises the possibility of their being used against civilian aircraft in a terrorist attack — a threat we will now examine in more detail.

Uses and Weaknesses of MANPADS

MANPADS were first fielded in the late 1960s, and since that time more than 1 million have been fielded by at least 25 different countries that manufacture them. These include large countries such as the United States, Russia and China as well as smaller countries such as North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.

By definition, MANPADS are designed to be man-portable. The missiles are balanced on and fired from the shooter’s shoulder, and the launch tube averages roughly 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length and 7 centimeters (3 inches) in diameter. Since MANPADS are intended to be operated by infantry soldiers on the front lines, durability is an important part of their design. Also, while the guidance mechanism within the missile itself can be quite complex, a simple targeting interface makes most MANPADS relatively easy to operate.

The SA-7 has a kill zone with an upper limit of 1,300 meters, while some newer models can reach altitudes of more than 3,658 meters. The average range of MANPADS is 4.8 kilometers (about 3 miles). This means that most large commercial aircraft, which generally cruise at around 9,140 meters, are out of the range of MANPADS, but the weapon can be employed against them effectively during the extremely vulnerable takeoff and landing portions of a flight or when they are operating at lower altitudes.

Despite their rugged design, MANPADS are not without limitations. Some research suggests that battery life makes the weapon obsolete after about 22 years. Missiles treated roughly, stored poorly and not maintained well may not last anywhere near that long. Since replacement batteries can be found on the black market, battery life is not necessarily a key limiting factor. For example, two SA-7s used by al Qaeda to target an Israeli civilian flight over Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002 were 28 years old and appeared to be fully functional. It is believed they did not hit their target due to countermeasures employed by the aircraft. Some of the classified U.S. military reports released by WikiLeaks indicted that, many times in Iraq and Afghanistan, the older SA-7s were ejected from their tubes and had engine ignition but failed to acquire and lock onto the intended target. This may also have been the case in the Mombasa attack.

Perhaps the most limiting factor to MANPADS’ utility has to do with the kind of aircraft being targeted. As MANPADS were developed and refined for military use, so were countermeasures for military aircraft. This means that most modern military aircraft are equipped with countermeasures that are effective against older models of MANPADS. Due to budget constraints, however, most commercial airliners and general aviation aircraft are not equipped with military-style countermeasures systems, which can alert a pilot that a missile has been launched so proper action can be taken, including evasive maneuvers, the deployment of infrared flares to decoy the missile or lasers to blind the missile’s seeker. Industry estimates indicate that outfitting and maintaining the entire U.S. airline fleet with countermeasures that could foil missiles would cost $40 billion. Because of the high cost of such defensive systems, the bulk of the civilian aviation fleet worldwide remains undefended and vulnerable to MANPADS.

MANPADS in Terrorist Attacks

The SA-7 was first deployed by the Soviet army in 1968 and was sent to North Vietnam, where it was used in combat against American military aircraft in the early 1970s. But it did not take long for militant groups to understand how the weapons could be utilized in a terrorist attack. In January and September 1973, Black September militants attempted to use SA-7s against Israeli civilian aircraft in Rome (the January flight was carrying then-Prime Minister Golda Meir). Both attempts were thwarted in their final minutes.

Two years later, the first successful MANPADS attack against a civilian aircraft occurred when North Vietnamese forces launched an SA-7 missile against an Air Vietnam flight, resulting in the deaths of all 26 passengers and crewmembers. One of the most famous civilian MANPADS attacks was in 1994, when two SA-16s were used to shoot down a Rwandan government flight, killing the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and sparking the Rwandan genocide, which resulted in approximately 800,000 deaths in 100 days (the identity of the attackers remains a matter of debate). Over the years, MANPADS attacks have been plotted and actively attempted in at least 20 countries, resulting in more than 900 civilian fatalities. The most recent MANPADS attack that resulted in loss of life was the strike by al Shabaab over Somalia in 2007 against a Belarusian cargo plane. Eleven people were killed. The attack reportedly involved a Russian SA-18 that was manufactured in Russia in 1995. It was one of a batch of SA-18s sent from Russia to Eritrea, some of which were provided to the Somali jihadist group.

A MANPADS attack does not necessarily mean certain death for an aircrew and passengers. In fact, some civilian airliners hit by MANPADS have made emergency landings without loss of human life. In November 2004, a DHL Airbus 300 was struck in the left wing by a MANPADS after leaving Baghdad International Airport on a mail delivery flight. While the aircraft was badly damaged and one engine caught fire, the pilot still was able to land safely.

The man-portable facet of MANPADS severely limits the size of the warhead that the weapon can carry compared to larger surface-to-air missile systems. They are also designed to engage and destroy low-flying military aircraft densely packed with fuel and ordnance. Because of this, MANPADS are not ideally suited for bringing down large civilian aircraft. Though airliners are hardly designed to absorb a missile strike, the damage a single MANPADS can inflict may not be catastrophic. MANPADS systems employ infrared seekers that are drawn to the heat signature of an aircraft’s engine, and therefore tend to hit the engine. Large commercial jets are designed to be able to fly and land if they lose an engine, and because of these factors, nearly 30 percent of the commercial aircraft struck by MANPADS have managed to make some sort of emergency or crash landing without loss of life, despite, in some cases, sustaining significant structural damage to the aircraft.

Still, the threat is not insignificant. The other 70 percent of civilian planes that have been hit by MANPADS have crashed with considerable loss of life. Indeed, on departure from or approach to an airport, airliners do have to traverse predictable airspace at low altitudes — well within the engagement envelope of MANPADS — and their airframes are under considerable stress. An attack at low altitude also provides the pilot less time to react and recover from an attack before the aircraft strikes the ground. These lower-level phases of flight also frequently occur over large swaths of built-up urban terrain that would be impossible to search and secure, even temporarily. Due to the noise involved with living under a flight path, this is usually low-rent real estate. With flight paths so well established, even casual observers generally have a sense of when and where large, low-flying aircraft can be found at any given time over their city.

Outlook

As noted in Stratfor’s previous coverage of the MANPADS threat, since 1973 at least 30 civilian aircraft have been brought down and approximately 920 civilians have been killed by MANPADS attacks. These attacks brought about the concerted international effort to remove these weapons from the black and gray arms markets. Because of these efforts, attempts to use MANPADS against civilian airliners were down about 66 percent from 2000 to 2010 compared to the previous decade. Nevertheless, sting operations and seizures of illicit arms shipments clearly demonstrate that militant groups continue to work to acquire the weapons. There are at least 11 active non-state militant groups that are believed to possess MANPADS, and we have seen MANPADS employed sporadically in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are more than 10 other groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, that have been making efforts to obtain them. While there is no evidence that these groups now have them in their arsenals, their efforts may have become easier as missiles from Libya have trickled onto the black arms market.

Estimates vary widely, but it appears that the Libyans had an inventory of 20,000 MANPADS. It appears that the SA-7b seems to have been the most common MANPADS in the Libyan inventory, though there were also several far more advanced SA-24 missiles (the latest Russian design) that were intended to be used in vehicle-mounted launchers sold to the Libyans but that could be used as MANPADS if they were paired with the proper gripstocks and battery coolant units. Of those 20,000 missiles, teams from the United States and NATO have secured roughly 5,000; another 5,000 are thought to be in the hands of the various Libyan militias and to still be in the country. That leaves a remainder of 10,000 missiles. While a number of them were destroyed by NATO airstrikes or launched at aircraft, it is believed that somewhere around half have been smuggled out of the country. For obvious reasons, obtaining an accurate number of missiles is very difficult. Indeed, with a variety of parties involved in the smuggling, it is doubtful that anyone knows for sure how many missiles have been smuggled out of Libya.

The U.S. government has designated $40 million for a program intended to buy back Libyan MANPADS, but clearly many of them have already made it out of the country. In addition to the February seizure in Algeria, Egyptian authorities seized eight SA-24 missiles in the Sinai Peninsula in September 2011. A month earlier, two Israeli Cobra helicopters came under fire from a MANPADS fired from Sinai during a multi-stage attack launched from Sinai that resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis. The missile missed the Cobras. Indeed, the Jerusalem Post reported that, due to the perceived increase in the MANPADS threat from Sinai, commercial aircraft landing in Eilat have changed their approach pattern.

To date, we are not aware of any attacks or attempted attacks against commercial airliners using MANPADS taken from Libyan stocks. But with the missiles in the hands of Palestinian militants in Sinai and Gaza as well as in the inventory of groups such as AQIM, there is a legitimate concern that they will be used in an attack in the immediate future. Jihadists have long had a fixation on aviation as a target. With increases in airline passenger and luggage screening, MANPADS provide jihadists with the means to bypass those security measures and conduct attacks against civilian aircraft. They may have problems getting missiles into Europe or North America, but with active jihadist franchises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa, there is a very real threat of a MANPADS attack directed against U.S.- or European-flagged carriers in those regions. But with a year now gone since the Libyan weapons stockpiles were looted, Libyan MANPADS could be almost anywhere in the world, and it is somewhat surprising that they have not been more widely used.

The Continuing Threat of Libyan Missiles is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

So, of the 20,000 missiles, 5,000 are secured by the U.S. and NATO, and 5,000 are thought to belong to Libyan militias and in-country.

Which leaves possibly around 10,000 MANPADS still out there.

Does knowing this stop me from flying? Heck no. However, I’m all for equipping commercial airliners and general aviation aircraft with military-style countermeasures systems because of this information. Too bad the bill will be steep.

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Update On Missing Libyan Portable Surface-To-Air Missiles

Remember all those portable surface-to-air missiles that went missing in Libya? I wrote back on September 27, 2011:

Flying the friendly skies just got more dangerous.

According to officials at a recent secret White House meeting, around 20,000 portable surface-to-air missiles have gone missing in Libya.

By the way, these missiles have the capability of bringing down commercial airliners…

Seeing that I’m planning on flying more soon for business and pleasure, I thought I’d check on the whereabouts of those missing portable SAMs. Here’s what I found. Leila Fadel and Alice Fordham wrote on the Washington Post website on January 15:

Loose weapons have emerged as one of Libya’s main security problems since the abrupt collapse of Gaddafi’s security forces. Libyan weapons teams working with experts from the United States have so far recovered 5,000 missiles known as manpads (man-portable air-defense systems), which can pose a serious threat to aircraft, according to a State Department official. But it is impossible to know how many remain missing, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

20,000 portable SAMs originally reported missing. 5,000 recovered to-date.

That still leaves 15,000 missiles unaccounted for.

Only two weeks after I originally blogged about the problem, a report surfaced of a number of these portable surface-to-air missiles having shown up outside of Libya. Lama Hasan wrote on the ABC News website on October 13, 2011:

U.S. officials say there were 20,000 Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles in Libya before the uprising, and thousands have disappeared in the looting of Moammar Gadhafi’s arm caches. According to the Washington Post, many of those Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons are being sold in Egyptian black markets, and so many are available the price has dropped from $10,000 to $4,000.

The threat of these weapons going abroad has not been lost on our neighbors across the pond. Marco Giannangeli and Ted Jeory wrote on the Sunday Express (UK) website back on December 18, 2011:

THE 2012 Olympics face a real threat from the “lethal Libyan legacy” of thousands of missing missiles and deadly chemical weapons that have fallen into terrorist hands, security experts warned last night…

More than 10,000 shoulder-mounted missiles are still unaccounted for after the chaos that led to the toppling of Gaddafi in October. Egyptian authorities have already captured five groups of smugglers taking Libyan weapons toward the border with Israel.

Regrettably, if Libya’s missing portable SAMs really are showing up on black markets outside the country and selling for as low as four grand a piece, how long is it before the bad guys acquire a few of these babies and try to smuggle them into the United States?

I intend to keep flying, but my pre-flight prayers will be a bit more devout from now on, if you know what I mean.

Sources:

Fadel, Leila and Fordham, Alice. “Top Egyptian general to visit Libyan leaders.” WashingtonPost.com. 15 Jan. 2011. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/top-egyptian-general-to-visit-libyan-leaders/2012/01/15/gIQAWwEp1P_story.html). 30 Jan. 2012.

Hasan, Lama. “Missing Libya Missiles Find Their Way to Gaza Border.” ABCNews.go.com. 13 Oct. 2011. (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/missing-libya-missiles-find-gaza-border/story?id=14729363#.TycbnIE3ySo). 30 Jan. 2012.

Giannangeli, Marco and Jeory, Ted. “Missing Missiles Threat To Olympic Games.” Express.co.uk. 18 Dec. 2011. (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/290595/Missing-missiles-threat-to-Olympic-Games). 30 Jan. 2012.

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Monday, January 30th, 2012 Africa, Europe, Middle East, North America, Public Safety, Terrorism, Transportation, War Comments Off on Update On Missing Libyan Portable Surface-To-Air Missiles

British Airways To Offer Course On How To Survive A Plane Crash

Back in the late nineties, I booked two round-trip plane tickets for myself and my girlfriend at the time on a Spanish carrier for a vacation in Barcelona. On the return leg of the trip, our passenger jet came in so fast while landing at Chicago O’Hare that we hit the runway with a tremendous jolt and leaped into the air before bouncing a few more times until the plane came to a stop. I remember there being dead silence in the cabin- then the crying began. Absolutely wild. While taxiing to our gate, I struck up a conversation with a well-travelled businessman who revealed, “That was nothing- the pilots of this airline are real cowboys.” He went on to tell me about a recent incident where one of their planes lost its navigation system shortly after take-off, but rather than scrap the trans-Atlantic redeye flight, the pilots navigated the remainder of the journey using just the stars. Gulp.

Anyway, I happened to catch the following WSJ Live Lunch Break video on MarketWatch.com yesterday in which “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney revealed British Airways will soon be offering a course to the flying public on how to survive a plane crash:


“How to Survive a Plane Crash”
WSJ Live Video

In the accompanying piece that appeared on the Wall Street Journal website yesterday, McCartney provided more details about the class. He wrote:

British Airways started a one-day emergency safety course for passengers five years ago at the request of oil company BP, which has lots of employees flying around the world. Other companies, many of them energy concerns that send workers into undeveloped parts of the world, began sending groups of road warriors to the course…

The airline plans to open up the course, which costs about $210, to individual travelers next year, possibly letting passengers redeem frequent-flier miles to attend. About 11,000 people have gone through the class so far.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Might be worth looking into, as you never know when a vaquero will be flying your plane.

Source:

McCartney, Scott. “Training for a Plane Crash.” Wall Street Journal. 29 Sep. 2011. (http://online.wsj.com/article/the_middle_seat.html). 30 Sep. 2011.

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Friday, September 30th, 2011 Emergencies, How To, Training, Transportation, Travel Comments Off on British Airways To Offer Course On How To Survive A Plane Crash
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