- Eleven planes went missing from Tripoli International Airport, after it was overtaken by an Islamic rebel group late last month
- U.S. officials are reportedly warning that the planes could be used to carry out terrorist attacks for the anniversary of September 11
U.S. officials fear Islamic militants have stolen nearly a dozen commercial planes in Libya which could be used to carry out 9/11-style terrorist attacks in the region.
Eleven commercial jets operated by two state-owned airlines went missing last month, after militant group Libyan Dawn overtook the international airport in the capital city of Tripoli.
In the past two weeks, the U.S. government has been issuing warnings about the deteriorating state in Libya, drawing attention to the fact that the planes could be used in attacks to mark the anniversary of 9/11 later this month, sources who read the briefs told the Washington Free-Beacon.
‘There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,’ one official told the Free-Beacon. ‘We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.’
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Fears: Nearly a dozen commercial planes are missing in Libya after a radical Islamic group overtook the international airport in the capital of Tripoli late last month.
Anniversary: U.S. officials are reportedly concerned the stolen airplanes will be used to carry out 9/11-style attacks in North Africa or the Middle East. The 11th also marks the second anniversary of the raid on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the deaths of four Americans. Above, a view of the World Trade Center Towers in New York, after they were hit by two commercial airplanes on September 11, 2001
September 11 not only marks the anniversary of the al-Qaeda organized attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington, DC – but it will also be the second anniversary of the Islamic militant-led raid of the U.S. Ambassador’s compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Tripoli International Airport was being run by two anti-Islamist militias and had been closed since mid-July when it was taken over at the end of August by the group Libyan Dawn. Pictures show the aftermath of the firefight, with planes completely or partially blasted and several littered with bullet holes.
Aftermath: Tripoli International Airport was overtaken by the group Libyan Dawn last month and now 11 aircraft for Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways are now missing. Above, a Libyan Airlines plane damaged in the battle, pictured on August 26
On Sunday, the Libyan government announced that they had lost control of the capital to competing militias including the radical Islamic groups Ansar al Sharia and Libyan Dawn. Ansar al Sharia has ties to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), the Syrian group which today released the filmed beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff – the second recorded execution of a U.S. hostage by the group.
Moroccan military expert Abderrahmane Mekkaoui told Al Jazeera television after the airport attack that the planes had been taken by another Islamic group, the Masked Men Brigade.
Strike again? A Moroccan military expert believes Islamic group The Masked Men Brigade are in control of the 11 missing airplanes
Victim: Ambassador Christoper Stevens (pictured above) was one of four Americans killed in the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi
Mekkaoui said there is ‘credible intelligence’ that the Masked Men Brigade ‘is plotting to use the planes in attacks on the Maghreb state’ on the 9/11 anniversary.
Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism expert, told the Free-Beacon that the planes could be used in two ways to strike North Africa or even as far as the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.
‘The first would be how commercial airliners were used on Sept 11, 2001, literally turning an innocent mode of mass transit into a super-high precision guided missile of immense potency,’ Gorka, the Maj Gen Charles Horner chair at the Marine Corps University, said.
The second tactic could be to use the airframe with its civilian markings as a tool of deception to insert a full payload of armed terrorists into a locale that otherwise is always open to commercial carriers,’ he added.
U.S. officials have not publicly confirmed the eleven planes’ disappearance, but are reportedly working to track them down.
Since the overthrow of previous dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has descended into turmoil and officials fear it may become another safe haven for terrorists, like Syria.
Egypt’s military government is currently looking into intervening in the country to restore order.
The U.S. is taking a more conservative role in the country, but Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he would be delivering Apache attack helicopters to Egypt.
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