Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa. Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports. “There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.” The official said the aircraft are a serious counterterrorism concern because reports of terrorist control over the Libyan airliners come three weeks before the 13th anniversary of 9/11 attacks and the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. A senior State Department counterterrorism official declined to comment on reports of the stolen jetliners.
Needless to say, a 'no comment' is not a denial. Recent history has shown that radical jihadists -- and Al Qaeda in particular -- are obsessed with air travel-related terror, and place a heavy emphasis on symbolic dates. Meanwhile, in ISIS news, the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman stated yesterday that intelligence reports suggest that up to 200 Americans have taken up arms with ISIS:
Our government doesn't seem prepared to say how it intends to keep those US nationals, who've joined thousands of Europeans fighting for the savages, from re-entering the country. The British government, whose people are at significant risk (see here, here, and here), is in the process of introducing tougher anti-terror measures in Parliament. American alarm over the threat from ISIS is escalating following the brutal on-camera execution of another US citizen hostage. A veteran Democratic Senator is demanding that the military expand its anti-ISIS airstrikes into Syria, which is the ruthless fighting force's home base:
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will soon introduce legislation to authorize President Barack Obama to launch military airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria within Syria, his office announced Tuesday... “This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson said in a statement. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
We'll see if a broader military campaign becomes part of President Obama's strategy, once he finally develops one. Several news organizations have reported that the administration has been explicitly aware of ISIS' emergence for years.
UPDATE - As Katie noted earlier, this is frightening:
"The people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn't Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they're here, ISIS is here, they're capable of striking," said CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative Bob Baer. "They don't know what their plans and intentions are. But it's a definite concern," said Baer. U.S. intelligence agents are keeping an eye on suspected ISIS militants who they believe have come across the Mexican border, or are American citizens that have come back from Syria, says Baer.
The former CIA operative concludes, "the people who do this for a living are very alarmed." A new report suggests that the second American killed while fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq used to work at…Minneapolis' airport.