Eleven airplanes went missing from Tripoli International Airport in Libya after the airport was seized by an Islamic rebel group last month. Now, United States officials fear they could be used to carry out another terrorist attack on the anniversary of September 11, reports 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.”
Most U.S. officials, however, have yet to confirm that the aircraft have been stolen and are instead working to locate them.
The U.S. government has issued warnings over the past two weeks that the situation in Libya has spiraled out of control and they fear terrorists will carry out attacks in northern Africa. In addition to September 11 marking the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, it is also the second anniversary of the Benghazi attacks, which resulted in the killing of four Americans, including one U.S. Ambassador.
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Tripoli International Airport has been shuttered since mid-July and was taken over by the Dawn of Libya militia group in August.
Egyptian military forces may be preparing to intervene in Libya in order to prevent it from a complete takeover by al Qaeda. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi would not confirm he has ordered air strikes into Libya, but U.S. officials have said there are signs that its military is preparing to take action. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly promised to provide Egypt with Apache attack helicopters.
In response to the news of the stolen aircraft, Tunisia and Egypt have halted flights to and from Libya and military forces in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt are on heightened alert.
Abderrahmane Mekkaoui, a Moroccan military expert, told Al Jazeera the stolen jets are in the possession of a Libyan terrorist group called Masked Men Brigade. The group has links to both al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia – the same group responsible for the Benghazi attacks.
Mekkaoui says “credible intelligence” reports confirm the group “is plotting to use the planes in attacks on a Maghreb state” on September 11.
Source: The Washington Free Beacon