Missing Libyan jetliners raise fears of terrorist attacks on 9/11

Islamist militias took over almost a dozen Libyan commercial jetliners last month.  Western intelligence agencies fear the stolen jets could be used to conduct terrorist attacks across North Africa.

According to The Washington Times, over the past two weeks several intelligence reports were circulated within the U.S. government.  The reports have included a warning that some of the stolen jetliners could be used to attack later this month on the 9/11 anniversary.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

The official noted that the reports also come three weeks before the second anniversary of the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that officials said U.S. intelligence agencies have not confirmed the aircraft theft after the takeover of Tripoli International Airport in late August, and are attempting to locate all aircraft owned by two Libyan state-owned airline companies.

Until recently, the Libyan Airlines fleet included 14 passenger and cargo jetliners, including seven Airbus 320s, one Airbus 330, two French ATR-42 turboprop aircraft, and four Bombardier CJR-900s. Libyan state-owned Afriqiyah Airways fleet is made up of 13 aircraft, including three Airbus 319s, seven Airbus 320s, two Airbus 330s, and one Airbus 340.

Reported stolen in late August, Al Jazeera television stated that western intelligence reports had warned of terror threats to the region from 11 stolen commercial jets.

In response to the warning, Tunisia halted all flights from other Libyan airports at Tripoli, Sirte, and Misrata.  There were concerns that the aircraft from those airports could be on suicide missions.  Egypt’s government also halted flights to and from Libya, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and other areas of North Africa have placed their military forces on a heightened alert as a result of intelligence warning of the stolen jetliners.

Abderrahmane Mekkaoui, a Moroccan military expert, told Al Jazeera television, the alert regarding the stolen jetliners was preventive and covers the region from Cairo to Lagos Nigeria.  He also stated that the aircrafts are being held by the Masked Men Brigade, a Libyan group categorized as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department and associated with al Qaeda.

On August 27, the United Nations Security Council announced plans for new sanctions on Libyan militias and terrorists. In a resolution, the U.N. warned of the “growing presence of al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups and individuals operating in Libya.”


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