A week shy of the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, counterterrorism officials are concerned about what radical Islamist groups could do with the nearly dozen commercial airliners that were reportedly seized from Tripoli International Airport in Libya last month.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa. In response, Tunisia and Egypt have halted flights to and from Libya. Meanwhile, military forces from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt have all been placed on “heightened alert.”
“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” one official reportedly told the Free Beacon. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”
The Free Beacon reports:
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.
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 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.
Read the full report HERE.
On radio this morning, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined Glenn to further discuss the threat. Bachmann is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and she described two specific uses for the stolen aircraft.
Bachmann explained the only information she has seen regarding the missing jets is from open source documents. She believes there are two likely uses for the planes – one involving an attack against strategic targets and another that would see the planes used to transport terrorists.
“There’s really two concerns. One, the planes could be used in a similar way that they were used on 9/11 in the United States. They could be used as essentially flying bombs into oilfields or buildings or strategic targets,” Bachmann said. “Number two, they could be used in a way where a plane could be loaded as terrorists, land as a commercial aircraft… in an American city or European city, deplane… [and] carry about maybe a Mumbai-type disaster.”
Glenn believes it would be difficult for terrorists to pull off an attack in a the U.S. or Europe using the aircraft, but he does see a very real threat when it comes to the oilfields of Saudi Arabia and other strategic targets in North Africa and the Middle East.
“The thing you said that feels the most true to me is the oilfields,” Glenn said. “You could take off in Libya and be over the skies of Saudi Arabia in lightning speed.”
According to Bachmann, that proximity is not lost on the Saudis.
“The Saudis know that as well,” Bachmann said. “The Saudis, from the time they detected that a plane… it would be less than 90 seconds the Saudis would have to be able to respond. So it’s very little time that they have. They realize that.”
Front page image courtesy of the TheBlaze TV