If the news stories are any indicator, someone has lately developed a taste for French missiles. Last week, you'll recall, I blogged about that strange case of a French air-to-air 530 missile being discovered by airport officials at Lakeland Linder airport in Florida. The missile was found in its shipment box supposedly by a corporation (Draken International) at the airport that - oh by the way - just happens to rent airplanes for military pilot training. We're now being told that the missile was all just a a simple mistake: French air-to-air missile accidentally sent to Florida airport. Now it's interesting that when one reads that short article on the missile being a mistake, we're not told what kind of mistake it was. Did someone order the wrong missile? Or did the customer mistakenly write down the wrong address?
I jest of course, but to a serious point: missile mistakes "don't just happen." Indeed, it would be more believable as a mistake if a whole pallet of missiles suddenly showed up at Lakeland Linder airport, not just one missile, much less one missile at an airport at which there is a company with connections to training military pilots (and while we're at it, whose pilots?). One missile to my mind implies more that someone wanted just one missile for some nefarious purpose. Who that is and what that purpose was is anyone's guess.
Well, that "someone" may have been at it before, and I stress, may have been at it before, according to this story from the BBC from July of last year shared by M.R.C. who spotted it and sent it along (and a big thank you!):
Note the following:
Anti-terrorism police in northern Italy have seized an air-to-air missile and other sophisticated weapons during raids on far-right extremist groups.
Three people were arrested, two of them near Forli airport. Neo-Nazi propaganda was also seized.
The raids were part of an investigation into Italian far-right involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Turin police said.
The missile originated from the Qatari armed forces, the police said.
Initially, on 15 July, the police said the arrests were part of an investigation, started about a year ago, into far-right groups "who have fought in Ukraine's Donbass region against the separatists".
But the latest police statement did not mention groups fighting the pro-Russian separatists, referring only to an investigation into Italian extremists who had "taken part in the armed conflict in Ukraine's Donbass region". The police did not make it clear which side the Italians were on in this case.
The missile appears to be a French-made Matra Super 530 F.
"During the operation, an air-to-air missile in perfect working order and used by the Qatari army was seized," police said in a statement.
Separately, a court in Genoa jailed three men on 3 July who were found guilty of fighting alongside the Russian-backed separatists, who control a large swathe of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Note that the article states clearly that the Italian authorities seized a cache of weapons and "Neo-Nazi" materials in connection with the missile and alleged suspects. As it looks to me, the photos accompanying the article make it pretty clear that the "Neo-Nazi" materials are just "plain ole Nazi" stuff, nothing "neo" about it. That's not surprising if one recalls that ever since the troubles began in the Ukraine, disturbing rumors have connected the post-Maidan Ukrainian government to elements of the World War Two Ukrainian Waffen-SS groups associated with Stefan Bandera, who remains a controversial figure, at one time arrested by the Gestapo for advocating Ukrainian independence, then set free to help raise Ukrainian units for the Wehrmacht. In any case, the article reports that the seizure was coupled to Italian investigations into Italians fighting the pro-Russian "separatists" in the eastern Ukraine in the Donbass region around the city of Donetsk, but that the story was changed later to indicate that the Italian suspects were simply involved in the Donbass fighting, but it is not clear for which side. That's a little suspicious, since it begs the question of how and why "neo-Nazi" materials or their sympathizers would by involved in fighting for the Russian side.
Then there's that little bit about the Italian seizure of the missile indicating that it had come from the Qatari army. Normally air-to-air missiles are things one would expect air forces, not armies, to use. Perhaps Qatar does not have much of an air force, but it does have one, and more importantly, it has been involved in the Saudi led intervention in Yemen. Yet again, we're not told how this conclusion was reached, but it does raise the question of how better to smuggle arms than through a military hot spot?
But all this is incidental to a few points of similarity between the Italian French Missile Story, and this year's Florida French Missile story. There are two, and possibly three, points of disturbing similarity between these two stories, the earlier one from Italy last year, and the more recent Florida French Missile Story:
(1) In both cases, there was apparently only one missile involved; and,
(2) In both cases, the missile involved was (a) French, (b) an air-to-air missile, and (c) was apparently the very same model of missile.
This latter point might imply that the missiles were originally part of the same shipment or lot/production-run. That would, in turn, tend to imply a possible third point of similarity: a common source of the missiles in both stories, and therefore, the same group behind both incidents. That's quite a "high octane speculation stretch" to be sure, but let's run right out to the end of the twig: the BBC story from last year might indicate at least the "who" or "who's" involved, if not the "why's". We have "Neo-Nazis" in Italy with international connections to the Ukraine, and Qatar. It makes me wonder if the Italian French Missile Story was in preparation for some sort of terrorist or false flag event, and that in turn makes me wonder the same about the Florida Missile Story.
It's that terrorist-and-international-Neo-Nazi element that I find particularly disturbing.
The old adage is "One is an accident or a mistake, two is a coincidence, and three is a pattern." By those lights, the Florida French Missile Incident has moved from accident or mistake, to an unusual coincidence. Let's hope it stays in that category and advances no further.
See you on the flip side...