U.S. Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden’s Terror Network: Al Qaeda Bought 25 Barrett 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles

For Release:  Sunday, October 7, 2001

“Super Guns” Can Down Helicopters, Defeat Armored Limousines, Destroy Aircraft at Terminals, Ignite Fuel Tanks, All From 1,800 yards 

Violence Policy Center Report Documents Sale, Details Terror Potential 

WASHINGTON, DC  The U.S. gun industry sold at least twenty-five 50 caliber sniper rifles to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s terror network, a study released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) today reports. The study, Voting From the Rooftops, details the tremendous power of the Barrett M82A1 50 caliber sniper rifles which U.S. Marines used in the Gulf War to knock out Iraqi armored vehicles from 1,750 yards away and the gun’s potential use to commit terror acts that could cause enormous casualties. The Barrett sniper rifle has spawned a bourgeoning market for these types of weapons that are becoming cheaper, lighter and more widely available. There are known to be at least fifteen 50 caliber sniper rifle manufacturers nearly double the number of companies that were manufacturing and marketing 50 calibers to civilians in1999.

“We can be shocked, but not surprised that the gun industry would sell these dangerous military weapons to Al Qaeda,” said the study’s author, Tom Diaz, VPC’s senior policy analyst. “These 50 caliber sniper rifles are ideal tools for terror and assassination.”

Voting from the Rooftops explains the enormous range of 50 caliber sniper rifles, the explosive power of special armor-piercing and armor-piercing incendiary ammunition easily available in the United States, and why this war-fighting power in the hands of Al Qaeda and other terrorists creates a grave threat to all Americans. Among the dangers the study details are:

  • How 50 caliber sniper rifles can create disaster at industrial facilities handling explosive, toxic or volatile chemical – the kind of threat terrorism analysts already warn transforms a target into a weapon.
  • Why a report for the Air Force warned that 50 caliber sniper rifles endanger aircraft, bulk fuel tanks, fuel trucks and other airport facilities – terrorists can turn planes into “bombs on the ground.”
  • The rash of 50 caliber sniper rifles found in the arsenals of domestic terrorist and extremist groups, including one that plotted to kill a state governor, U.S. Senator, and federal judges.




About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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