Afghan rebels got missiles from North: Wikileaks

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Afghan rebels got missiles from North: Wikileaks

North Korea sold surface-to-air missiles to high-ranking insurgents in Afghanistan in 2005, according to a secret U.S. intelligence report. Wikileaks, a Web site dealing with leaked information, obtained the report and disclosed it through the Washington Post on Sunday.

The North was widely suspected of being involved in illegally selling weapons to Afghan insurgents, but this is the first time it has been documented. Critics said that if the information is confirmed, new sanctions being placed by the U.S. on the North could be expanded.

“On 19 November 2005, Hezb-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Dr. Amin, Osama Bin Ladin’s financial advisor, both flew to North Korea departing from Iran,” said the report, according to the Washington Post. “While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft.”

The report said the two stayed in the North for two weeks and returned to Helmand, Afghanistan, around Dec. 3. The report said the weapons could have been shipped in early 2006.

The report suspected that one of the weapons, which might be like a Stinger missile, was used in downing a U.S. helicopter 18 months later. Another U.S. intelligence report, disclosed previously by Wikileaks, described a CH-47 Chinook helicopter being brought down by a missile near the Helmand River. The U.S. has suspected the missile was part of the North’s supply to Afghan insurgents in late 2005.

The Washington Post cited experts as saying the case, if true, illustrates the extent to which North Korea will go to harm the United States. Experts also said weapon sales are an important source of cash for the sanctions-strapped Northern economy.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last Wednesday in Seoul a new round of sanctions on North Korea.


By Jung Jae-hong, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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