Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is now thought to possess the SA-7, a surface-to-air missile in the category of MANPADS, or man-portable air-defense systems. Since 1975, 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS, causing at least 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world, according to the U.S. State Department. Here are some incidents involving commercial planes.
March 12, 1975: A passenger plane, operated by Air Vietnam, crashed into Vietnamese territory after being hit by a MANPAD, killing 26 passengers and crew.
Sept. 3, 1978: An Air Rhodesia Vickers 782D Viscount passenger airliner crash-landed after being hit by a MANPAD, fired by forces from the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, killing 34 of the 56 passengers.
Dec. 19, 1988: Polisario Front fighters opened fire on two DC-7s chartered by USAID to spray for locusts over Morocco. One crashed, killing all five crew onboard.
Sept. 22, 1993: An aircraft operated by Transair Georgia was shot down by Abkhazian separatist forces. It crashed onto the runway and caught fire, killing 108.
April 6, 1994: An executive jet carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and its French flight crew was shot down over Kigali, killing all aboard and sparking massive ethnic violence which marked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide.
Oct. 10, 1998: A Boeing Lignes Aeriennes Congolaises airliner was downed over the Congolese jungle by Tutsi militia, killing 41.
Dec. 26, 1998: A U.N.-chartered C-130 Hercules was shot down over Angola by UNITA forces, killing 14.
Jan. 2, 1999: A U.N. Hercules transport plane was shot down by UNITA forces in Angola, killing nine.
Nov. 28, 2002: Gunmen fire two MANPADS at a Boeing jet carrying 271 passengers and crew as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. Both missiles missed.
Nov. 22, 2003: A DHL Airbus cargo jet transporting mail in Iraq was struck and damaged by a MANPAD. Though hit in the left fuel tank, the plane was able to return to the Baghdad airport and land safely.
March 23, 2007: An Ilyushin cargo plane was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia, killing the entire crew of 11.
(Source: U.S. State Department)