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Expecting the worst: Why did 11 Libyan airliners go missing?

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Fears of a massive terror attack next week have North African states on high alert.

Rumors are circulating amongst intelligence officials that a massive terrorist attack may happen in commemoration of the September 11 attacks on the United States. While an attack within the USA is possible, many are concerned that targets in North Africa and Saudi Arabia are most at risk following the news that perhaps a dozen airliners have gone missing in Libya.

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Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/3/2014 (7 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Libya, jets, airliners, missing, terror, attack, alert

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Al Qaeda-linked rebels have taken control of large parts of Libyan territory including the city of Tripoli and the airport there. In late August, Al Jazeera reported on the disappearance of 11 passenger and cargo planes from the region. Those aircraft, it is feared, could be used in suicide attacks across North Africa and even as far away as the United States.

The threat is so serious that Egypt has conducted strikes against the terrorist group, Libyan Dawn, which is allied with Al Qaeda. The goal has been to reduce their ability to threaten Egypt. A second terrorist group, Ansar al Sharia controls Benghazi. That group claims to have surface-to-air missiles and other military hardware, some of which could be used to shoot down a civilian airliner.

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Military forces in the region are also on high alert including forces from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Nobody knows where these airliners have gone. Could they be hidden in hangers, were they flown to other regions? And how do you lose nearly a dozen such aircraft? Are they simply miscounted or has an official been misquoted? The uncertainty has officials fearing the worst.

As most Americans witnessed on September 11, 2001, a commercial jetliner can become as destructive as a cruise missile, and can be smartly guided by a suicide pilot. And there appears to be no shortage of fanatics willing to die for the cause, and it is only a question of flight training for those chosen to carry out such attacks.

It is reasonable to suspect that if these airliners are in terrorist hands and they have the pilots willing to die in them, then attacks could range as far away as Saudi Arabia. With few air defenses the massive refineries would make easy targets in the desert, both by day and night. A single crash into one refinery would disrupt world fuel supplies for an extended period of time, making for a powerful attention-getting attack with long-term repercussions.

Another possibility would be using the aircraft to strike civilian targets such as high-rise buildings in the region. Cairo could be a target, as well as other major cities as far away as Lagos, Nigeria.

Cities across the Mediterranean, such as Rome could also be viable targets.

Less likely would be a strike on American cities simply because the planes would be low on fuel by the time they completed the trans-Atlantic flight. Such an attack would be less devastating because the aircraft would impact mostly with kinetic energy and less explosive power and less fuel to burn in the conflagration. The 9/11 attacks showed that buildings, which are mostly hollow, honeycomb-like structures, can survive kinetic impacts, but cannot withstand the prolonged temperatures of an aviation-fuel-induced fire which can soften metal support structures and cause a collapse.

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The United States also has military radar peering into the skies above the Atlantic, which would allow them to intercept any rogue aircraft approaching the American coast.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates have always made a dedicated effort to strike somewhere in commemoration of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. While Americans remember the trauma and the victims and commemorate the day with somber ceremonies, there are those who celebrate the day as a joyous holiday.

These people seek to destroy you and the United States. They hate you for your religion, among other things. They despise you because you are different. Their beliefs will not permit them to peacefully coexist with you, instead they see you as an existential threat and have dedicated their lives to converting you to their way of belief, or to killing you.

This is not a joke and these people are not exaggerating. As hundreds of thousands of Christians have learned in Iraq and Syria, these people mean what they are saying. It is time to take them seriously and prepare for life in a new world because they're not going away and they're not going to stop.

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