09/10/13 Airline Threat
A year ago Islamic Jihadists overran the poorly defended U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The compound was set ablaze. And four Americans — including Ambassador Chris Stevens — were killed.
[The Obama Administration engaged in a cover-up, falsely claiming an obscure YouTube video was the reason for the attack.]
This attack led to the revelation there was a nearby secret facility staffed with CIA employees and contractors.
A source who has been to the Benghazi facility but was not present the night of the attack told Behind the Headlines the primary mission of CIA personnel was to recover thousands of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems known as MANPADS — man-portable air defense systems.
Arms trafficking experts have told us Libya possessed as many as 20,000 MANPADS including Russian-made SA-7 and SA-14 and the advanced SA-24 MANPADS. About 15,000 are missing.
As seen in this video, rebels looted Libyan ammo storage facilities after U.S.-led strikes in 2011. The U.S. failed to secure the ammo facilities allowing various factions including Al Qaeda fighters to capture thousands of weapons including MANPADs. They’ve been found in Mali in western Africa and one was fired at an Israeli helicopter over Gaza last year.
[In a 2011 interview with French magazine Jeune Afrique, Chad President Idriss Derby warned that Al Qaeda fighters had gained possession of MANPADS posing a major threat in northern Africa. Arms trafficking and security analysts sounded the alarm about the same time.]
MANPADS are relatively small and easily transportable.
[Specifications are here. Analysis of the threat posed to aviation by MANPADS is here.]
An Al Qaeda-affiliated website published instructions on how to use MANPADS to shoot-down commercial airliners. The threat is serious enough that the FBI quietly issued this warning calling it a potential threat to U.S. civil aviation.
Several airlines referred our questions to the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA has refused to comment on the threat as have the Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI. Although the FBI acknowledged it issued the threat warning.
[An official with the International Civil Aviation Organization speaking on background expressed surprise U.S. authorities had not shared with the ICAO the intelligence warning of the MANPADS threat.]
[Representatives of several international companies that insure global air carriers told Behind the Headlines that when they become aware of heightened threats in specific regions the insurance premiums are adjusted accordingly. None of the representatives would identify any regions under heightened threats although one said, “You only have to look at the global situation to figure out where the threats are.”]
Commercial airline pilots have confided to Behind the Headlines that MANPADS pose a dangerous threat especially if used against an airliner fully loaded with fuel shortly after take-off. U.S. airliners flying virtually anywhere in the world potentially face this dangerous threat.
[The U.S. State Department is acutely aware of the threat posed to aviation by MANPADS.]
There’s still too much about Benghazi the administration is not telling the public.
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