Leading up to the somber anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there are fresh fears of possible 9/11-style attacks taking place across North Africa as radical Islamist groups in Libya have reportedly seized nearly a dozen commercial airliners in the last month.
While counterterrorism officials are reportedly concerned that the missing jetliners could be used by terrorists to carry out deadly attacks, the timing of the theft is also setting off alarms. The concern is that radical Islamist groups will use the planes to mark the anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks, according to alleged intelligence reports disseminated within the U.S. government.
Reports that Islamist militias have seized the jetliners come just weeks before the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Smoke billows from buildings during clashes between Libyan security forces and armed Islamist groups in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi on August 23, 2014. Islamist fighters in the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition said they have captured Tripoli's battered international airport after many days of clashes with nationalist militiamen. ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on August 26, 2014, shows bullet casing and damaged airplanes on the tarmac at Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital after fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition captured the airport from Zintan force, allies of rogue general Khalifa Haftar. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing. … We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes,” one official reportedly told the Washington Free Beacon.
The aircraft were reportedly stolen in August after Islamists took control of the Tripoli International Airport. It was later reported that 11 commercial jetliners were missing.
On Sept. 11, 2012, four Americans were killed during a terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. At first, the Obama administration blamed the attack on a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim YouTube video.
When pressed by the Free Beacon, a “senior State Department counterterrorism official” refused to comment on reports of stolen jetliners in Libya. Another State Department told the online publication, “We can’t confirm that.”
It was also reported on Tuesday that Islamic State militants beheaded a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff. Just as they did when they murdered photojournalist James Foley, the terrorists reportedly uploaded a video showing the gruesome execution.
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