Procurement: May 1, 2004

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Eastern Europe continues to be the primary source of high-tech weaponry for international terrorist groups. For years, the then Soviet-controlled states armed guerrilla groups such as the PLO and the Viet Cong, but after the 1991 collapse of the USSR and the creation of democratic governments in the Soviet Bloc, all support for such movements ended, at least officially. 

However, now more than ever, Eastern European weapons continue to find their way into the hands of terrorist groups. This trend can be explained by a number of factors. First, Eastern Europe and Russia have a long history of producing weapons that, deliberately or not, are perfectly suited to terror operations. Small arms and light weapons such as the AK-47 assault rifle, the PKM machine gun, and the RPG-7V1 anti-tank grenade launcher are cheap, lightweight, powerful, reliable, and easy obtained. These are all of the characteristics desired by terrorist groups. Also, Eastern Europe is one region of the world where a full-spectrum of military weaponry from pistols to the latest in portable air defense missiles, can be purchased secretly, no questions asked, cash and carry. Thus terrorists need only go to one place (such as the former Yugoslav republics) to get everything on their shopping list. 

The second major reason for Eastern Europe's status as a source of terrorist weapons involves the highly publicized dishonesty of government officials in the region. Particularly in the Balkans, everything and everyone is seemingly for sale. Astronomical levels of corruption among army officers and enlisted men as well as police officers and export officials make trafficking weapons (especially small arms) a piece of cake. Most of the many criminal groups operating in Eastern Europe specialize in arms trafficking to some degree or another and are more than happy to obtain arms for terrorists at the right price. Italian groups such as the Camorra and the Sicilian Mafia are known to deal heavily in the trafficking of arms out of Eastern Europe. 

All of these factors combine to produce a region that is extremely favorable to illegal arms traffickers and with the surplus of weapons in Eastern Europe, it doesnt appear that this situation will change any time soon. 

 


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