WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. officials secretly approved arm shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar but grew concerned when they learned militants got some of the arms, officials said.
While nothing has emerged that links the Qatari-provided weapons to the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the Obama administration was worried about the consequences of its covert help in arming Libyan militants, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The United States provided little oversight for the arms shipments, and soon after the shipments began in the spring of 2011, the White House began receiving reports the arms were going to Islamic militant groups, a former Defense Department official told the Times.
"To do this right, you have to have on-the-ground intelligence and you have to have experience," Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser who now leads the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times. "If you rely on a country that doesn't have those things, you are really flying blind. When you have an intermediary, you are going to lose control."
The Obama administration never determined where all of the weapons went once they reached Libya, officials said.
The weapons were paid for by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the Times reported. The former Pentagon official said some of the weapons since have been sent from Libya to militants with ties to al-Qaida in Mali where radical factions have imposed Sharia, or religious, law in the north. Other weapons made their way to Syria, several U.S. and foreign officials and arms traders said.
Officials from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates did not comment, the Times said.