Small Arms and Light Weapons as a Source of Terrorist Financing in Post-Qadhafi Libya

Mary Fitzgerald 28 Jul 2021

This original report is published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and project CRAAFT. 

Post-Qadhafi Libya has played a pivotal role in the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) not only in the Middle East and North Africa but also in other regions, as far as West Africa and the Horn of Africa. With the fall of the Qadhafi regime in 2011, much of its military arsenal, one of the largest and most diverse in the region, fell into the hands of various non-state actors inside and outside the country, including designated terrorist organisations and criminal networks. In this report, Mary Fitzgerald explores the use of SALW by these non-state actors and the consequences this has had.

Project CRAAFT is an academic research and community-building initiative designed to build stronger, more coordinated counterterrorist financing capacity across the EU and in its neighbourhood. Project CRAAFT is funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund –Police, and implemented by a Consortium led by RUSI Europe, along with the University of Amsterdam, Bratislava-based think tank GLOBSEC and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), based in The Hague. For more information, visit

Keywords: Libya, Qadhafi, small arms and light weapons, SALW MENA, project CRAAFT, terrorist financing


Mitigating the Impact of Media Reporting on Terrorism: Libya Case Study – this report by Mary Fitzgerald contributes to the growing literature on Libya and the developments of a post-Qadhafi state.

Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Trafficking, Smuggling, and Use for Criminality by Terrorists and Insurgents: A Brief Historical Overview – this report relies on historical and contemporary examples, and outlines the use of SALW as both a source of terrorist financing and tools of the trade.

Cashing in on Guns: Identifying the Nexus between Small Arms, Light Weapons and Terrorist Financing – This longer ICCT report provides a comprehensive overview and understanding of SALW as a source of terrorist financing.