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Missing rocket launchers in Australia

Global Press Network | Jan 16, 2007

Australian authorities are searching extensively for six stolen rocket launchers in the bush-land on the outskirts of Sydney, New South Wales since last few weeks. Intelligent reports suggested that rocket launchers were placed in PVC pipes and buried by the terrorists around southwest Sydney. A strike force along with the federal police cleaned public land in an attempt to locate the anti-tank weapons with out any luck. Search is still on. Hi-tech metal detecting equipments are at use. Authorities assume they will find chemicals, firearms and ammunition that were also allegedly bought by members of a suspected Sydney terror cell along with the rocket launchers. 

Stolen rocket launchers were in the hands of a home-grown terrorist group who planned to use them to attack Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, and other important establishment. It skewers the Australian Government's credibility on security issues. 

Mohamed Ali Elomar and his Australian based terror group had taken possession of five of seven 66mm Light Anti-Tank rocket launchers on October 11, 2003. They began canvassing possible targets such as NSW Parliament House and the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney's south from then on .Security forces could not come up with any major success till November 2005,  when they arrested 17 people from Melbourne and Sydney accused of plotting attacks with the stolen rocket launchers. During the raids, police found, on a computer belonging to a suspect, instructions on how to hide anti-tank rockets inside plastic PVC piping. Shortly afterwards, a car owned by a terror suspect was found that contained digging equipment, strengthening suspicions that the weapons might have been buried. 

Australian Government in consultation with Australia’s States and Territories passed new anti-terrorism laws in mid-December 2005 to handle the uprising of terror plotting and destructive activities. Laws include amendments to Commonwealth legislation that enable Australia to better deter and prevent potential acts of terrorism at home, to prosecute when they occur, and to restrict the movement of those who pose a terrorist threat to the community. In January 05, 2008, police arrested 28year old Sydney based Taha Abdul Rahman for selling seven rocket launchers, five of which are suspected to have ended up in the hands of an alleged terrorist cell. 

Australian Defence Association spokesman Neil James initially denied allegations that the rocket launchers were stolen from the Army. But Federal police scientific experts have reconstructed later an erased serial number on a military rocket launcher recovered from a Sydney underworld figure, confirming that it was stolen from the army and not from the supplier. Poor record keeping has made it difficult to determine if the 66-millimetre rocket launchers, known as light anti-tank weapons, or LAW, were stolen from a storage arsenal or what unit or personnel they may have been issued to for a live firing exercise. Federal police and the Defence Security Agency are trying to trace the movement of the launchers in the army before they were stolen. 

These launchers were imported from Norway between 1990 and 1991 from the manufacturer Raufoss and assembled at the Australian Defence Force Ammunition Filling Factory at St Marys for exclusive use by the Australian Army. Police alleged the manufacturer's lot number was on the warhead of the recovered rocket but that the Ammunition Filling Factory lot number had been obliterated from the external tube of the launcher and painted over.

Australia did not face any major terror plot in its history. Only 3 Australians have died in the last 3 decades from terrorism within Australia that in the 1978 Sydney Hilton Bombing. Inefficiency of the intelligent unit and the Army however might ease up the job of Muslim terrorists who in number of occasion threatened Australian government for supporting the US in its war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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