Study indicates ISIS armed with US-made weapons

A new report from Amnesty International says Islamic State is making use of captured American weapons in the Middle East.

Militant photo via AP/File
This file image posted Nov. 1, 2015, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, shows an Islamic State fighter firing his weapon during a battle against Syrian government troops in the village of Mahin, central Homs province, Syria.

A new report from Amnesty International links Islamic State (IS) to American-manufactured weapons sourced from captured stockpiles in the Middle East.

The terrorist organization is largely self-funded through a combination of extortion and taxes generated from the civilians who live within the borders it controls.

This new report indicates that it sources its weaponry and ammunition from more than 25 different countries, including Iraqi military stocks that were supplied to the Iraqi army by the United States.

The record shows that international forces have been supplying Iraq with weapons since at least the 1980s and possibly earlier, during a period when Iraq was at war with Iran. Over time, through mismanagement and corruption, weapons went missing and fell into the wrong hands, helping feed into the forces that are now the Islamic State today.

“The quantity and range of IS stocks of arms and ammunition ultimately reflect decades of irresponsible arms transfers to Iraq and multiple failures by the US-led occupation administration to manage arms deliveries and stocks securely, as well as endemic corruption in Iraq itself,” the report reads.

That stockpile, according to Amnesty International, includes “more than 100 different types of arms and ammunition,” including hundreds of thousands of US-manufactured assault rifles and pistols that were supplied to the Iraqi army between 2003 and 2007, during the US-led occupation.

When IS captured several Iraqi cities in 2014, it also captured military bases and remaining weapons stockpiles that had not been secured by Iraqi military forces during the previous war.

Since then, the terrorist organization has continued to capture US-manufactured weapons previously owned by the Iraqi military. IS has also added to its collection of Russian, Belgian, and Chinese-manufactured arms, which Amnesty International believes may have been captured during ground battles in Syria.  

In order to stop these weapons from continuing to end up in the wrong hands, the report recommends utilizing stricter regulations for the export and transfer of weapons to Iraq and the Iraqi military, and imposing better security and management of current weapons stockpiles.

This would also include upholding the Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2013 as an attempt to oversee this largely unregulated trade. The United States has signed but not ratified the treaty.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger Cabiness told CNN that the US already has practices in place “to prevent and detect illegal transfers to third parties, in order to protect American technology, and, where relevant, to ensure partner compliance with requirements placed on all recipients of US defense articles."

But the Pentagon also admitted that those practices do not include military equipment that is lost during air or ground fights.

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