Jihadis in Syria are reportedly turning to Facebook to sell U.S. weapons, including machine guns and rocket launchers, intended to help Syrian rebel groups.
Facebook has removed a page that was being used by Syrian jihadis to sell American weapons. Members of the page had connections to groups Ahrar Al-Sham and the Islamic Front in Syria.
A Facebook page called “The first weapons market in the Idleb countryside” showcases posts with photographs of weapons, claimed to be CIA-supplied, inviting buyers to contact page administrators privately using popular messaging application Whatsapp to discuss sales and transactions. An AGS-17 Soviet-era grenade launcher is listed for $3,800 and below that a thermal camera made by Oregon-based company FLIR, is listed alongside posts advertising the sale of 105mm cannon shells. Weapons like TOW and MANPAD missile launchers, which the CIA has provided to rebel groups in Iraq and Syria, and can pose serious threats to civilian and military jets, are also advertised on the page.
Individuals looking to purchases equipment could also use the page to request particular weapons.
The U.S. has sought to arm moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting the Bashar al Assad regime throughout the civil war in Syria, though the efforts have backfired in some cases.
The Pentagon acknowledged in September that U.S.-backed Syrian rebels voluntarily gave at least a quarter of their weapons and equipment to the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra. A policy paper issued in January asserted that al Nusra poses a more significant long-term threat to the United States than ISIS.