(by Katharine Lackey and Oren Dorell, USA Today) – Reports that 11 commercial jetliners are missing from the main airport in Libya’s capital of Tripoli are raising fears that militants could use them in terrorist attacks to mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11 [this] week.
The Washington Free Beacon cited anonymous sources who said intelligence agencies have warned the jets could be used in attacks in North Africa and elsewhere on Sept. 11.
The date also marks the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We have nothing to confirm these reports about missing airliners.”
A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, also said there’s been no confirmation that aircraft had been stolen.
Images have surfaced online showing militants posing with the jetliners taken when the militants overran Tripoli’s airport last month in a fierce battle that left much of the airport and its aircraft damaged.
In the past four months, a renegade general has battled Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi — [location] of the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi — as powerful regional militias have fought for control of the Tripoli airport. Islamist-allied militias have seized virtually all of the capital.
Moroccan military expert Abderrahmane Mekkaoui said there was “credible intelligence” that one Libyan terrorist group “is plotting to use the planes in attacks on the (region) on the 9/11 anniversary,” The Huffington Post reported, citing Al Jazeera television.
An aviation security expert said the planes, if actually seized by terrorists, would pose more of a threat to countries near Libya than the U.S. homeland.
Any stolen aircraft from Libya would unlikely penetrate post-9/11 U.S. air defense and security measures, but they could pose a threat to targets that are much closer, said Jeffrey Price, author of Practical Aviation Security and professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver.
Airliners are required to file flight plans before entering U.S. airspace, and air-traffic monitors would be looking for aircraft matching the description of any stolen planes, Price said. An airliner could try to fly below radar to avoid detection, but the U.S. military has developed systems to detect and stop low flying threats, he said.
Price said most countries near Libya, including in Europe, do not have the same air-defense capabilities and would be more at risk.
The reports of the missing planes, which first surfaced in mid-August, likely sparked an international search for the planes by intelligence agencies, Price said. “It’s hard to hide a big jet,” he said.
The latest report surfaced after an Islamist militia seized a U.S. Embassy residence in Tripoli last weekend, posting video online of men playing in a pool at the compound. In late July, U.S. diplomats evacuated the compound and the capital and traveled to neighboring Tunisia under a U.S. military escort as fighting between rival militias intensified and thousands fled.
About 150,000 people have fled Libya during the fighting and another 100,000 have been internally displaced, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from USA Today. Visit the website at usatoday .com. (Contributing: The Associated Press)
1. How many commercial airliners are missing from the main airport in Libya’s capitol of Tripoli?
2. a) Who has warned that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks?
b) Why do they think it was terrorists who have taken the planes?
3. a) Where/when might the attacks occur?
b) Why does aviation expert Jeffrey Price say it is unlikely the terrorists could enter the U.S. with the stolen planes?
4. How have the White House National Security Council and State Department responded to reporters’ questions about these concerns?
5. What would lead you to believe that USA Today and the Associated Press believe the warnings to be credible?
6. The news is full of stories of militant Muslim extremists threatening and murdering people: ISIS in Syria and Iraq, beheading American reporters, and killing Christians and other minority religious groups, as well as non-Sunni muslims and also threatening the U.S. and Americans.
Syria – Islamic terrorist group ISIS
Iraq – Islamic terrorist group ISIS
Libya – Islamic terrorist group Libyan Dawn (and others)
Nigeria – Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram
Somalia – Islamic terrorist group al Shabaab
India – Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda
Iran – trying to obtain nuclear weapons; has said they would wipe Israel off the map
This is a time when we must be serious about who we pick as our leaders.
a) What type of leaders do you think are/would be best at protecting our country? What qualities would they need?
b) Do you think the current administration is doing the best job confronting terrorists? How about Congress? Explain your answer.
Ask a parent the same question.
WHY IS CONGRESS HOLDING HEARINGS ON THE ATTACKS ON THE U.S. CONSULATE IN BENGHAZI, LIBYA IN WHICH 4 AMERICANS WERE MURDERED?
- The American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya, was attacked on September 11, 2012 by a heavily armed group.
- The attack began during the night at a compound that is meant to protect the consulate building.
- A second assault in the early morning the next day targeted a nearby CIA annex in a different diplomatic compound.
- Four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
- Ten others were injured.
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and President Obama blamed the attacks on a Muslim protest turned violent over a youtube video that supposedly insulted Islam’s prophet Mohammed.
- It is now believed that the Obama administration knew the attack in Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack from the beginning.
- The Obama administration’s responses to the attack are being questioned, with suggestions that if they had acted correctly, the attack could have been prevented or at least some of the Americans could have been rescued.
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