The Terrorizing Sound of Silencers

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Clammy moisture formed on the upper lip of the security chief and his stomach felt queasy. Only a few more minutes, he thought, and the damn OPEC people will board their jetliner and become someone else's problem.

Primal fear lifted the hair at the nape of his neck just before the first round snapped within a foot of his head and thudded heavily into the Libyan oil minister. Another bullet cracked and hit the Algerian representative.

In a frenzy, the security chief whirled around searching for the sound of thunderous gunfire inside the airport complex. He had heard none, only two soft pops from a balcony.

"Silencers!" he roared to his detail. "They're using bloody damned silencers."

A few moments later, one of his men recovered the abandoned murder weapon, a Remington 700 with a long, thick tube on the end -a professionally made silencer.

Although the scenario is highly realistic, this scene hasn't happened, yet. Consider: terrorists wishing to blame the American CIA in the eyes of the Third World locate a well-known U.S. sniper rifle, put a highly efficient silencer on the weapon, shoot two OPEC officials, then leave the weapon behind for local police and media to find.

Don't smirk. Our CIA and their KGB do things pke that to each other all the time. Now, though, a third trigger finger has been added to the game-international terrorism. Terrorists have discovered the science/art of quiet death: firearms silencers. In attack first pinned on the Israeli Mossad, two PLO officials were killed in Nicosia, Cyprus late in 19~9 when a masked gunman armed with a 9mm silencer-equipped pistol calmly shot and killed the two men less than one hundred yards from a police checkpoint. Neither officer on duty heard the gunfire. Barring some police calumny, that sort of field tested efficiency is what quality silencers are all about.

In their typical mist of black propaganda, the Israelis remained totally silent about the killings. By early 1981 though, police officials in Nicosia confirmed that the murders were the work of potential rivals to Yassir Arafat within the Arab world. The weapon used was a Beretta equipped with a "well-made, professional silencing device made in Eastern Europe," according to officials in Cyprus.

The Mideast murders continued. In July of 1980, former Syrian premier Salaheddin al Bitar was assassinated with a silencer-equipped handgun. Then, as a sidebar to the Iranian hostage story, in 1980 Paris police arrested five members of what they described as "a well-trained Islamic hit squad" whose target was Shahpour Bakhtiar, the late Shah's prime minister. Bakhtiar, an outspoken opponent of the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini, was living in France. A team of gunmen tried shooting their way into the Iranian's fortified apartment with silenced Beretta pistols. A policeman and a woman neighbor were killed in the wild exchange of shots, during which two of the five terrorists were wounded-obviously, a case of Khomeini grits.

In the Philippines, terrorist/bandits operating under the guise of Moro freedom fighters attacked a government bus using a silenced AK47 to take out two of the military guards riding escort. An

American passenger who saw the weapon in action was a Vietvet who could easily identify the Kalash-nikov but who had never seen a silenced model before.

"These random terrorist attacks are not new," said the late Fred Stock, a former CIA field officer who was very familiar with the use of silenced weapons on special missions. "What's new is the increased silencer technology. It used to be that once in a while you'd hear about a homemade can on the end of a weapon. Today, these people have access to the latest and best equipment available."

There is documented silencer use among the New People's Army, a Mao-aligned group in Luzon, according to sources in the Philippine military. However, further south, more silencers turn up among the troops of the Moro National Liberation Front. This nationalistic group of freedom fighters uses Ml6s and AKs, fabricating silencers in their own workshops just as their fathers did in WWII for use against the Japanese. Also, the urban splinter group run by the Lovely brothers, which was broken up in 1981 by the Philippine Constabula-tory, had targeted individual government officials for assassination using their stockpile of silenced weapons. Authorities not only seized operational plans, but also broke up an arms buy which would have added two silenced Skorpions to the brothers' arsenal.

Obviously, silencers are a favorite tool of terrorists who come by their silencers via the domestic black market, theft from the military, and the purchase or gift of silencer-equipped foreign military and intelligence service weapons. Unlike the U.S., several nations permit the open sale of silencers. Thus, the devices arc legally bought in one nation, then illegally smuggled into other countries where they are sold to terrorists and criminals at a fat markup. A silencer bought in France for S30 may bring S750 in the U.S., and even more in Ireland.

When Pierluigi Concutelli, a chieftain in the Italian terrorist group Ordine Nuovo, was arrested in 1977, police also confiscated his silenced Ingram MIO. It was the same weapon he'd used to murder an Italian magistrate and a police investigator who was closing in on Concutelli's Mafia ties.

Spanish terrorist groups like Ingrams, too. A sizeable consignment of MIOs, sent under the auspices of official U.S. authority to DGS, a Spanish intelligence agency, somehow ended up in the hands of domestic terrorists.

There are easier ways to obtain silenced weapons. The Communist bloc is more than generous with their ordnance as long as they're certain it won't backfire. Both the Soviet Union and Communist China have already donated their top-of-the-line assassination weapons to terrorists.

Back in 1977, an American intelligence agency paid $25,000-no questions asked for a sixteen-year-old Soviet military rifle. At the time, this was a weapon so mysterious and well guarded that no picture even existed in the West until then. KGB assassins, Soviet military snipers and terrorist gunmen used this super sniper rifle to kill American diplomats, intelligence agents, and military officers in the ongoing cold war under the surface of detente. The weapon is known as the Dragunov.

The captured Dragunov was turned over to the U.S. Army's Foreign Science and Technology Center (FSTC) for study and testing. According to an FSTC technical expert, the Soviet weapon is "a

Homemade Science Models
This 20mm Lahti model 39 antitank cannon was fitted with a homemade oil drum silencer and used to blast open a vault in Quebec.
Lahti Cannon

the terrorizing sound of silencers

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