JERUSALEM Several pistols belonging to bodyguards of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took an unexplained cross-country U.S. detour this week before four of them went missing altogether, officials said on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Israel's Shin Bet security service confirmed that the four handguns "were part of the equipment sent ahead (of Netanyahu) to Washington, and got lost," adding that Israeli and U.S. authorities were investigating.
A U.S. source familiar with the matter told Reuters that two suitcases bearing seven handguns in all -- four in one bag, three in the other -- arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with Israel's security detail and were rechecked for a flight to Washington. But neither bag made it there.
Instead, both bags were later retrieved at Los Angeles International Airport, then were flown back to Washington through Chicago. When the two suitcases were reopened in Washington, the four guns from one bag were discovered to be missing, but it remained unknown where along the line the firearms were taken, the source said.
All three guns in the second suitcase were still in their bag and were recovered.
After meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, Netanyahu was scheduled to continue to New York. The Shin Bet spokesman said the missing pistols had not forced any change to his schedule or security measures.
(Writing by Dan Williams; additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by David Stamp and Sandra Maler)