Yet another 9/11/2014 peril: Eleven passenger jets stolen by Libyan jihadis

by Gramfan on September 3, 2014

in airlines and aviation, Gramfan (team member), Islamic terrorism, Libya, vehicle theft

Anyone old enough to remember 9/11/2001 – for that matter, anyone who can read – knows how easily passenger jets can be used as flying bombs. But direct suicide attacks are not the only danger. Stolen heavy jets can easily be repainted and disguised and used to smuggle jihadi troops and supplies into other countries and regions.

News.com.au: Missing jetliners raise fear of new 9/11-style attacks after Libyan airport falls to Islamic militants

FEARS have been raised that Islamic militants have seized a dozen commercial aircraft in an attack on a Libyan airport last week. Now, according to a report, intelligence agencies are warning the jets could be used in 9/11-style attacks.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” one official told The Washington Free Beacon this morning.

“We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

The report said intelligence reports distributed within the US government over the past few weeks have detailed the types of aircraft believed seized. Several have the size and range to reach deep into Europe and Africa.

The Beacon reports the analysts as issuing a specific warning — that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack on the date marking the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States.

It is also the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

The threat warning comes as dramatic video reveals the final moments of a Libyan combat jet.

The aircraft plunged into the ground less than a kilometre from the country’s parliament during a fly-past intended to honour the pilot of another fighter jet that died in a crash a week ago.

The resulting fireball damaged several nearby buildings.

Libya is witnessing its worst violence since former dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi was toppled and killed in 2011.

The country’s divisions are deeply rooted in rivalries between Islamists and non-Islamists, as well as powerful tribal and regional allegiances between groups that quickly filled the power vacuum after Gaddafi’s was ousted. Successive transitional governments have failed to control the militias.

Videos and much more here.

Washington Free Beacon: Missing Libyan Jetliners Raise Fears of Suicide Airliner Attacks on 9/11

Egypt set for military intervention as Libya spirals toward failed state

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

“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 said the aircraft are a serious counterterrorism concern because reports of terrorist control over the Libyan airliners come three weeks before the 13th anniversary of 9/11 attacks and the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
[…]
Meanwhile, officials said Egyptian military forces appear to be preparing to intervene in Libya to prevent the country from becoming a failed state run by terrorists, many with ties to al Qaeda.

Libya remains an oil-rich state and if the country is taken over completely by Islamist extremists, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe it will become another terrorist safe haven in the region.

The officials said U.S. intelligence agencies have not confirmed the aircraft theft following the takeover of Tripoli International Airport in late August, and are attempting to locate all aircraft owned by two Libyan state-owned airline companies, as security in the country continued to deteriorate amid fighting between Islamists and anti-Islamist militias.

Video surfaced on Sunday showing armed fighters from the Islamist militia group Libyan Dawn partying inside a captured U.S. diplomatic compound in Tripoli. The footage showed one fighter diving into a pool from a second-story balcony at the facility.

Tripoli airport and at least seven aircraft were reported damaged during fighting that began in July. Photos of the airport in the aftermath showed a number of damaged aircraft. The airport has been closed since mid-July.

The state-owned Libyan Airlines fleet until this summer 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.

The aircraft were reportedly taken in late August following the takeover of Tripoli International Airport, located about 20 miles south of the capital, by Libyan Dawn.

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

In response, Tunisia stopped flights from other Libyan airports at Tripoli, Sirte, and Misrata over concerns that jets from those airports could be on suicide missions.

Egypt’s government also halted flights to and from Libya.

Military forces in North Africa, including those from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt have been placed on heightened alert as a result of intelligence warning of the stolen aircraft.

Egyptian military jets reportedly have conducted strikes inside Libya against Libyan Dawn positions recently, and U.S. officials said there are signs a larger Egyptian military incursion is being planned.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi was quoted as denying Egyptian air strikes into Libya have taken place but suggested that military action is being considered.

Secretary of State John Kerry last week told his Egyptian counterpart that the United States would speed up the delivery of Apache attack helicopters, although it is not clear the Apaches would be used in any Libyan operations.

Egypt’s military-backed government appears to be seeking a more significant role in regional security after the Obama administration helped engineer the ouster of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi in 2011. Since then, the Obama administration, through its announced policy of “leading from behind,” has stood by while Libya gradually has spiraled into chaos.

The Libyan government announced Sunday that it no longer controlled the capital of Tripoli.

“We announce that the majority of the ministries, institutions, and associations in the capital Tripoli are no longer under its control,” a government statement said.

Libya’s parliament in August declared both Ansar al Sharia and Libyan Dawn as terrorist organizations working to overthrow the government.

Ansar al Sharia, which is based in Benghazi, recently publicized on social media that it has obtained large numbers of more sophisticated weapons, including SA-6 surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, assault rifles, and armored vehicles. The group is closely aligned with al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria.

Abderrahmane Mekkaoui, a Moroccan military expert, told Al Jazeera television, which first reported the airline theft Aug. 21, the alert regarding the stolen jetliners was preventive and covers the region from Cairo to Lagos Nigeria.

Mekkaoui said the jets are being held by the Libyan group called Masked Men Brigade, which was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in December.

The Masked Men Brigade is linked to al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia—the group behind the Benghazi terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2012.

Until the Libya Dawn takeover of the airport, announced Aug. 24, two other militia groups, known as Al Qaqa and Al Sawa controlled the airport and all aircraft belonging to Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways.

Mekkaoui said “credible intelligence” reports given to states in the region indicated the Masked Men Brigade “is plotting to use the planes in attacks on a Maghreb state” on the 9/11 anniversary.

Read it all here.

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