Top Ten Creepy Clown Clusters of 2016

By: Twilight Language

Top Ten Creepy Clown Clusters of 2016
by Loren Coleman, author of The Copycat Effect
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

Following in the tradition of my clown list from 2008, my notes on evil clowns (and Joker copycats) for 2009, my documenting of real killer clowns in 2010, my list of evil clowns of 2011, similar weirdness in 2012, a compilation for 2013, and the creepy clown reports in California, countrywide in the USA & in France, ending us back in Aurora for 2014, and finally Top Ten Evil Clown Stories of 2015, here is my new “top ten” gathering of “creepy clown clusters” that occurred in the extraordinary Year of 2016.

First, let us reflect on 2016. No year since 1981 – when Phantom Clowns were sighted and then first discussed in book form via Mysterious America –  has there been such a multilayered, massive explosion of reports of clown accounts among the populace, first in America, and then worldwide.
The hints began in the Spring of ’16, overseas.

(1) Germany ~ February

The first unusual clown event of 2016 occurred in Kassel, Germany. Two activists in clown costumes disrupted a meeting of the German anti-migrant party Alternative for Germany by throwing a cake into the face of Beatrix von Storch, one of the party’s leaders and a European Parliament member. The men approached von Storch while she was presiding over a closed-door Alternative for Germany party meeting held in Kassel, Germany, on February 28, 2016. They sang “Happy Birthday” as one of them threw a cake into von Storch’s face and the other filmed the incident.
(2) Mexico ~ March

On the weekend of March 19-20, 2016, Tony Tambor, also known as Marco Antonio Vazquez, claimed he was repeatedly punched and kicked at a Sonora, Mexico party for 30 children, according to the Houston Chronicle. Tambor may lose his eyesight, according to the Mexico News Daily.

(3) Wisconsin ~ August

The largest wave of reports of clowns in recent history began in a small way in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in early August 2016. A mysterious clown that seemingly came out of someone’s warped sense of humor was spotted in Green Bay, according to photographs making the rounds of the social media. A Facebook page called “Gags – The Green Bay Clown” claimed the first sighting happened August 1, 2016, at 2:00 a.m.

By definition, these clowns were “stalking clowns.”

(4) Carolinas ~ August

“Phantom Clowns” soon popped up. On August 29, 2016, residents at the Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, South Carolina, reported that a person wearing a clown costume had been spotted lurking around the apartment complex trying to convince children to come into the woods. This was followed quickly on September 4, 2016, when police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, received a call about a clown looking to lure children into the woods. The Phantom Clown accounts then spread throughout the Carolinas. See also “Phantom Clowns in Greenville: Four Sightings,” “Phantom Clowns: Spartanburg,” “Phantom Clowns: Winston-Salem,” “Phantom Clowns: Two New Piedmont Triad Incidents,” “Phantom Clowns: Fayette Factor,” and “Phantom Clowns: High Point.”

These reports were classic “Phantom Clowns,” and did not seem to be real people dressing up as clowns, i.e. “Stalking Clowns.” See, “Phantom Clowns: Classified.”

(5) Ohio ~ August

Like dropping a pebble in a pond, the ripples of Phantom Clown sightings went out from the Carolinas. Ohio seemed to be hit first.

A knife-wielding clown reported in the Northland area might prove a hoax, but Columbus, Ohio, police say they aren’t taking any chances. A 14-year-old boy told police that a 6-foot-tall man in dark clothing and a clown mask chased him a short distance as he walked to a school bus stop at about 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 30, 2016, said police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner.  The boy told police that the incident occurred just before sunrise in his neighborhood, near Satinwood and Ironwood drives.

See also, “Phantom Clowns: Ohio.”

(6) Georgia and Alabama ~ September

Next, leaping from the Carolinas to Ohio, clown incidents turned up in Georgia and Alabama. On September 14, 2016, McDuffie County deputies in Georgia say Cameron Frails, 12, and his little brother, were walking to a bus stop when they were chased by men donning clown costumes. The next day, on September 15, 2016, authorities locked down Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School in Southern Alabama after clowns threaten students and post gun emojis on Facebook. So-called “Flomo Klowns” were spotted on the premises of both schools. On September 15, 2016, police in Flomaton, Alabama, arrest 22-year-old Makayla Smith and two underage accomplices in connection with the threats to students at Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School. A middle school girl in Athens, Georgia, was arrested on September 21, 2016, after bringing a knife into school. She claims it was for protection against clown attacks.

See also, “Phantom Clowns: Alabama,” “Phantom Clown: Macon + LaGrange,” and “Phantom Clowns: Greensboro + Green Name Game.”

(7) United States ~ September

Creepy Clown Sightings Map 2016.

After the initial sightings, all kinds of encounters with clowns were reported throughout the United States, as can be seen from this summary or this one.

      Sep. 19: Several children report a series of clown sightings in different neighborhoods of

Annapolis, Maryland

      . Police later confirm the reports to be a hoax.
      Sep. 21: A 12-year-old in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is chased by a clown through a park.
      Sep. 24: A Palm Bay, Florida, resident reports spotting two “killer clowns” while walking her dog. She says the clowns were staring at her and frightened her to the point that she called police after returning home.
      Sep. 25: A child in

Phillipsburg, New Jersey

      , is chased by three people who emerged from the woods dressed as clowns. Nobody has been hurt in the town but it is the fourth such incident reported in the area. Residents plead with the troublemakers to stop their antics.
      Sep. 27:


      officials put out a warning telling residents to be vigilant as Halloween approaches. One teenager reports being attacked by a clown.
      Sep. 27: Police in


      say two different fast-food restaurants were robbed by suspects wearing clown masks.
      Sep. 30:

The New York Times

      reports that false reports or threats in connection to sightings of “creepy clowns” have led to the arrest of

12 people in over 10 states

      Sep. 30: Threatening Facebook post from the account “Aint Clownin Around” leave at least five schools in three separate states on high alert. The post sent to students in students in

Westside High School in Houston

    reads, “We will be at all High schools this Friday to either kidnap students or kill teachers going to they cars …”
By October, reports were coming in from Idaho, Alaska, California, Arkansas, and several other states.
(8) Worldwide ~ October
By mid-October 2016, clown sightings were being recorded in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Reports in the UK – in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – called them “Killer Clowns.”
(9) USA ~ October
One of the major outcomes of the “Creepy Clown Epidemic” of 2016 was the temporary (?) retiring of Ronald McDonald.

On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, the McDonald’s Corporation acknowledged that it will henceforth be “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events” as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.” It became obvious that the overlap was not imaginary.

See also, “Precursor to Creepy Clowns: Ronald McDonald.”

(10) USA – 2016

An earlier indicator that “creepy clowns” were on the horizon happened in June 2015, and continued into early 2016, when front page clown images and political cartoons of Donald Trump appeared in New York City and other newspapers.
The number of clown-Trump visual jokes merely increased as the year went along.
The above meme was based on an infamous scene from Stephen King’s IT!
One last note.
The media’s many stories on the “Creepy Clown Epidemic” personally pulled me into the analysis long before any reporter interviewed me. Instead, the use of my 1981 work and coining of the phrase “Phantom Clowns” caused journalists to write about and quote me. See here and this brief overview.

Brussels Attack Predicted?

(excerpt: Twilight Language)

On this Twilight Language blog on March 10, 2016, I wrote “there is a rumor making the rounds,” that something big, something conspiratorial was targeted to occur on “the 22nd March 2016.” This was being transmitted “in a global predictive fashion.”

On 3.10.2016, I asked, “Will anything special happen on 3.22.2016?”

In America, we write this as 3.22. In Europe, it is 22.3.

A series of consequential events did take place today.

There has been major terrorist bombings in Brussels, Belgium.  The number of the dead is reported to be 34 at 9 AM EDT, and over 170 injured.

At Top: (1) The prime suspect in the airport bombing. (2) People run away from an explosion heard inside Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium.

Zaventem: The old spelling of the municipality’s name is Saventhem, but the oldest notation of Zaventem is Saventa, which dates from records of 1117. There are several hypotheses on the meaning of the name. One of them refers to the seven pools or small ponds that existed in the area during medieval times. Another one refers to small ponds in a sandy environment (sabulous clay). Others interpret the name Zaventem as a reconfiguration of zeven tommen [meaning seven (Gallo-Roman) tumuli or burial mounds] or zaaivelden (meaning field for sowing).

Beginning at 8:00 AM (local Brussels time; 3:00 AM EDT-USA), the first explosion occurred at the airport. What followed was multiple explosions at the airport and Brussels’ Maelbeek Metro Station. The Metro, according to local observers, is “literally” underneath the offices of the European Commission and the Council of European Union.

The name Maalbeek, (meaning mill stream), comes from the Dutch words beek(meaning stream) and maal (meaning to mill). Molenbeek has the same derivation. In French usually the old spelling Maelbeek is used.

The airport suspects. Note the single black gloves on the two to the left.

Skull and Bonesman John Kerry made a statement on the attack. Or as one conservative site noted, “John Kerry Condemns Brussels Attacks, Never Mentions Islam.”

The first attack occurred at 8 AM Brussels time. That would have been 3 AM Eastern Daylight Time USA.
I woke up in the middle of the night, and, as you can see from the time stamp, sent out the following tweet at 2:42 AM EDT.
See also, a summary of other predictions made here.
For more on the Dangerous Minds article about predicting events, see “The Man Who Predicted The Aurora Shooting” at TL and the original Dangerous Minds article of 9.17.2012.

Real Animal Attacks 2015!

by: twilight language

CBS’s Zoo television series began June 30, 2015.
It is almost as if the program saw into the future.
Discovery’s Shark Week, the real kind, apparently already began.

There is something going on with the animals. There have been recent attacks by sharks, alligators, sturgeon, lion, tiger, and leopard. Despite the warning signs, in some cases, the humans ventured forth into these encounters.


An increase of shark attacks, especially along the Carolina coasts, during the summer of 2015 has not gone unnoticed. The number is large enough for sharks to become a media story. Last time this happened? In which sharks became a media focus? 2001.

The most recent attack was ironic because it was against a past member of the media.

A former editor-in-chief at The Boston Herald suffered serious injuries after he dramatically tried to fight off a 7-foot shark Wednesday [July 1, 2015] off the coast of North Carolina.
Andrew F. Costello reportedly came face-to-face with the monster while vacationing with his family at the coastal town of Ocracoke.
Costello, 68, was swimming with his son around noon when the attack occurred.
“I could see from where I was standing that he had a big baseball-sized chunk of flesh taken off of his leg right above his knee and there was a lot of blood everywhere,” Jackson Fuqua, 15, who witnessed the attack, told The Boston Herald.
“I saw a big trail of blood from the water to where the man was laying down on a beach towel. There were a lot of EMS workers all around him and they were frantically trying to help him and work to close the wounds he had,” Fuqua told the paper.
Costello suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and hands, according to the paper. He is reportedly in fair condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

The synchromystic world actually started talking about the “shark imagery” back in February 2015.
In 2015, on the Sunday after July 4th, it becomes “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.
Few remember that during 2001, the “Summer of the Shark” began on the 4th of July.
Shark attacks generally get more attention by the media than most news. Except for mass shootings, school shootings, workplace violence, and terrorist attacks.
Time Magazine in 2001 acknowledged it was “The Summer of the Shark,” even though statistically, there were less attacks than in some other years.
But there was something more sinister waiting in the wings – 9/11, of course. First, however, another animal got the headlines; the “Summer of the Gator” happened too in 2001.
In my twilight language book, The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow’s Headlines (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004), I noted the unfolding of the “if it bleeds, it leads” focus on shark and alligator attacks. The media, almost completely, forgot about animal encounters after the Twin Towers came down. Terrorism and war were the new wall-to-wall coverage for months.
The news for 2015 is now shifting to alligator attacks too.
Word reached me from the director of Southern Fried Bigfoot that a violent encounter with an alligator occurred on June 28, 2015, at Charlotte Lake, Cedar Hill Park, Wallisville, Texas. A 13-year-old boy, Kaleb, was swimming near the shore when bitten in the arm and leg by an alligator. The gator also began to pull him under the water. Kaleb’s father, James Hurley, jumped in the water, kicked the alligator off his son, and pulled Kaleb to safety. Both Kaleb and James Hurley are recovering at the hospital. Source.
Seventy-five miles away, also in Texas, there was an alligator fatality early Friday morning, July 3, 2015.

Tommie Woodward, 28, (pictured above, from his Facebook page) suffered severe trauma to a limb when he was attacked early Friday morning at the private marina, which is along a bayou extending from the Sabine River near the Louisiana line, Orange, Texas, police Captain Robert Enmon reported. The alligator was estimated to be 11 feet long.

The owners of the marina recently had spotted a large alligator on a few occasions, and put up a sign warning people to stay out of the water, police said. Woodward reportedly when told this, yelled out “F*ck the alligators,” and jumped in.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise, the incident was the first fatal attack by an alligator in Texas in about 200 years.


Then on Saturday, July 4, 2015, an 8-foot alligator grabbed Mike Karris’ 11-year-old dachshund, Cody, at the boat ramp in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Karris and his girlfriend were unable to rescue their dog. The last attack on a dog was more than 15 years ago. Source.

There’s also a problem with leaping sturgeon. In Florida, boaters are infrequently, but routinely hurt by sturgeon jumping from rivers and colliding into people in boats.

On May 23, 2015, on the Santa Fe River, a sturgeon crashed through a boat windshield, injuring the driver of a boat. Early in June 2015, a sturgeon in the Suwanee River in Manatee Springs State Park jumped into a boat with 14-year-old Heavyn Nash and knocked her unconscious. Nash was fishing with her mother and grandfather when the 4- to 6-foot fish decided to join them.

A jumping sturgeon on the Suwannee River. Florida Fish and Wildlife

Then on July 2, 2015, a fatality took place. A 5-year-old girl was killed after a sturgeon leaped out of a northern Florida river and struck her while she was boating with her family, state wildlife officials said. Jaylon Rippy died after getting hit by the fish on the Suwannee River, south of Lake City, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement posted on the Suwannee Democrat Bulletin. Her mother, Tanya Faye Rippy, and 9-year-old brother, Trevor Rippy, were injured by the sturgeon, as well.

On Friday, July 3, 2015, two adults traveling in a boat on the Santa Fe River between the Suwannee River and a Branford area campground were also struck by a leaping sturgeon, Fish and Wildlife Commission officials said in a statement.
Lion, Tiger, and Leopard

Big cats have been in the news too.
The lion that would kill was photographed moments before the attack, by another tourist (above) and by the victim (below).
On June 1, 2015, New Yorker Katherine Chappell, 29, was killed by a lion when she rolled her window down to take photographs. This occurred at the Lion Park, near Johannesburg, South Africa that had clear signs warning its visitors.
Clear signs prohibiting open windows are found at the park.

Chappell was as an Emmy-award-winning visual-effects artist on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She also had worked on Captain America and Godzilla.

The white tiger at the zoo before its escape.

An escaped zoo white tiger killed a 43-year-old warehouse worker on June 17, 2015. Police then shot and killed the white tiger in Tbilisi, Georgia. Severe flooding allowed hundreds of wild animals to escape the city zoo in this country that was part of the former Soviet Union. The tiger attack happened at a warehouse in the city center. The animal had been unaccounted for since the weekend floods destroyed the zoo premises. Doctors said the man was attacked in the throat and died before reaching the hospital. Source.

A leopard attack on July 2, 2015, also occurred in South Africa. A guide at South Africa’s most famous national park, Kruger National Park, survived a leopard attack after a tourist scared the animal away with his car.

The incident occurred Thursday afternoon at the wild animal game park as the guide drove an Open Safari Vehicle (OSV) past some leopards. One of the leopards was the vehicle’s group of people lost sight of it. The leopard had gone around to the driver’s side and jumped at the guide, clamping down on his arm.
“Everybody in the OSV started hitting the leopard with any object they had with them,” the park said.
A tourist driving another vehicle raced over and used the truck to scare away the leopard.
“We would like to thank the tourist from another vehicle for his quick and decisive action as he saved the guide and tourists’ lives,” park general manager William Mabasa said in the statement.
The guide was treated for his injuries. Source.

HEY, PARENTS! The Obama Regime wants to know: Is your child a potential Islamic terrorist? Or as Obama likes to call it a “violent extremist?”

Don’t be surprised if you get this in the mail, even if you aren’t a Muslim. This crap was unheard of until we started allowing Muslims to flood into this country under Barack Hussein Obama.


The Intercept  Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism Islamic terrorism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism Islamic Terrorism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies.


The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to(MUSLIM) terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris(MUSLIM TERRORIST) attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism MUSLIM TERRORISM on February 18th. 

Is this your child's favorite birthday card?

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism Islamic Terrorism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to (MUSLIM) Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” 



Does your child like to carry around severed heads?

The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating (ISLAMIC) extremist ideologies.

Families are judged on factors such as “Aware[ness] of Each Other’s Activities,” as well as levels of “Parent-Child Bonding,” and communities are rated by access to health care and social services, in addition to “presence of(MUSLIM) ideologues or recruiters (IMAMS)” as potential risk factors. (Regular attendance at a mosque)

Does your child like to practice beheadings on dolls?

A low score in any of these categories would indicate a high risk of “susceptibility to engage in violent extremism Islamic terrorism,” according to the document. It encourages users of the guide to plot the scores on a graph to determine what “interventions” could halt the process of (Islamic)radicalization before it happens.

Does your child like to dress up as a Muslim terrorist?

“The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and social service employees to rate the (MUSLIM) communities,(MUSLIM) individuals and (MUSLIM) families they serve for their potential to become (ISLAMIC) terrorists is abhorrent on its face,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. German called the criteria used for the ratings “subjective and specious.” (Especially when used for non-Muslim families)


By BareNakedIslam Posted in Children

SHAME ON BRITAIN! Queen’s Royal Guard now have to hide because of threats of Muslim terror attacks

MoS2 Template Master

YOU CAN THANK BRITAIN’S LIBERAL MUSLIM IMMIGRATION POLICIES FOR THIS! British Security chiefs have taken the dramatic step of withdrawing Royal Guards from their high-profile posts outside palaces amid mounting fears of ‘lone wolf’ MUSLIM terrorist attacks.

UK Daily Mail  Elite soldiers of the Queen’s Guard have pulled back from public positions at many landmarks in response to possible threats from Islamic extremists. For the first time since the height of the IRA’s terror campaign, the soldiers are also no longer allowed on sentry duty alone, and are now accompanied by armed police.


Retired officer Major Iain Dalzel-Job of the Scots Guards told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I think this is a big shame. ‘The reason people know we’re around is because they can see us. But I suppose the changes are necessary as there is a significant threat.’

This newspaper has confirmed the changes to the Guards’ security at sites including Clarence House, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and Horse Guards Parade. At Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles, the guardsmen who used to stand in front of the gates on The Mall, a public road, have now been relocated, along with their sentry boxes, behind metal gates.


Tourists, who love to pose with the Guards, can now barely see them. Police officers confirmed changes had been made for security reasons. At St James’s Palace, the London home of Princess Anne and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, two Guardsmen used to perform sentry duties beneath its famous clock tower on Pall Mall.

These guards and their sentry boxes have now been moved into a secluded courtyard inside the perimeter, leaving no visible presence at the clock tower gate. In Horse Guards Parade, two sentries still stand guard where tourists can pose for photographs with them. But four armed police officers now guard the soldiers.  The officers carry Heckler and Koch carbine rifles, pistols and Taser guns – in contrast to the Guards, who just carry ceremonial swords.


A Metropolitan Police officer on duty there told our reporter: ‘Yes, we are a recent addition here. It’s us guarding the Guards. I think there’s a Latin phrase for that.’ At Windsor Castle, up to three armed officers now stand next to the lone sentry on guard duty on the Western side of the castle.

The tightening of security to levels unseen since the height of the IRA terror campaign comes in the wake of Muslim terrorists from the Islamic State based in Iraq and Syria threatening Britain.  Al-Qaeda groups have also called on would-be terrorists to launch ‘lone wolf’ attacks against UK soldiers and police.


On Christmas Eve, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) encouraged Muslims to launch attacks in the West on their own. It published a magazine that gave instructions for a home-made bomb, and urged its readers to use such a device to blow up an airliner or other Western target.

Former soldiers said last night that the changes were needed as sentries felt vulnerable to attack.  One Guards insider said: ‘We’re fully in favour as if an attack on a sentry can happen in Canada it can happen here. By moving behind the railings we’ve got a chance to respond, most likely saving lives.


‘The terrorists know that a Guardsman is a higher profile target than an ordinary soldier and they’re looking for publicity, something spectacular, so the Guards would suit their agenda.’

Although there have not been any successful terror attacks in Britain since Lee Rigby was killed outside Woolwich Barracks in May last year, intelligence services say they have foiled a number of plots this year. Last month, police stopped an alleged plot to launch an attack on Remembrance Sunday, after arresting four men in London and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Also last month, police chiefs warned officers not to wear their uniforms to and from work as Islamic terrorists were looking to target officers.


OBAMA’S LIBYA MESS: 11 missing jetliners raise threat of 9/11-style suicide plane attacks. State Department appears unconcerned.

Islamofascist militias in Libya took control of 11 commercial jetliners causing Western intelligence agencies to issue warnings that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa or beyond.


Washington Free Beacon (h/t Susan K)  A senior State Department counterterrorism official declined to comment on reports of the stolen jetliners. A second State department official sought to downplay the reports. “We can’t confirm that,” he said.

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.


Meanwhile, officials said Egyptian military forces appear to be preparing to intervene in Libya to prevent the country from becoming a failed state run by terrorists, many with ties to al Qaeda. Libya remains an oil-rich state and if the country is taken over completely by Islamist extremists, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe it will become another terrorist safe haven in the region.

The officials said U.S. intelligence agencies have not confirmed the aircraft theft following the takeover of Tripoli International Airport in late August, and are attempting to locate all aircraft owned by two Libyan state-owned airline companies, as security in the country continued to deteriorate amid fighting between Islamists and anti-Islamist militias.


Video surfaced on Sunday showing armed fighters from the Islamist militia group Libyan Dawn partying inside a captured U.S. diplomatic compound in Tripoli. The footage showed one fighter diving into a pool from a second-story balcony at the facility.




Tripoli airport and at least seven aircraft were reported damaged during fighting that began in July. Photos of the airport in the aftermath showed a number of damaged aircraft. The airport has been closed since mid-July.


The state-owned Libyan Airlines fleet until this summer included 14 passenger and cargo jetliners, including seven Airbus 320s, one Airbus 330, two French ATR-42 turboprop aircraft, and four Bombardier CJR-900s. Libyan state-owned Afriqiyah Airways fleet is made up of 13 aircraft, including three Airbus 319s, seven Airbus 320s, two Airbus 330s, and one Airbus 340.

The aircraft were reportedly taken in late August following the takeover of Tripoli International Airport, located about 20 miles south of the capital, by Libyan Dawn. Al Jazeera television reported in late August that western intelligence reports had warned of terror threats to the region from 11 stolen commercial jets.


In response, Tunisia stopped flights from other Libyan airports at Tripoli, Sirte, and Misrata over concerns that jets from those airports could be on suicide missions. Egypt’s government also halted flights to and from Libya. Military forces in North Africa, including those from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt have been placed on heightened alert as a result of intelligence warning of the stolen aircraft.

Egyptian and UAE military jets reportedly have conducted strikes inside Libya against Libyan Dawn positions recently, and U.S. officials said there are signs a larger Egyptian military incursion is being planned.


Egypt’s military-backed government appears to be seeking a more significant role in regional security after the Obama administration helped engineer the ouster of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi in 2011. Since then, the Obama  administration, through its announced policy of “leading from behind,” has stood by while Libya gradually has spiraled into chaos.

The Libyan government announced Sunday that it no longer controlled the capital of Tripoli. “We announce that the majority of the ministries, institutions, and associations in the capital Tripoli are no longer under its control,” a government statement said. Libya’s parliament in August declared both Ansar al Sharia and Libyan Dawn as terrorist organizations working to overthrow the government.

Ansar al Sharia, which is based in Benghazi, recently publicized on social media that it has obtained large numbers of more sophisticated weapons, including SA-6 surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, assault rifles, and armored vehicles. The group is closely aligned with al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria.


Abderrahmane Mekkaoui, a Moroccan military expert, told Al Jazeera television, which first reported the airline theft Aug. 21, the alert regarding the stolen jetliners was preventive and covers the region from Cairo to Lagos Nigeria. Mekkaoui said the jets being held by the Libyan group called Masked Men Brigade that was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in December. The Masked Men Brigade is linked to al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia—the group behind the Benghazi terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2012.

Until the Libya Dawn takeover of the airport, announced Aug. 24, two other militia groups, known as Al Qaqa and Al Sawa controlled the airport and all aircraft belonging to Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways. Mekkaoui said “credible intelligence” reports given to states in the region indicated the Masked Men Brigade “is plotting to use the planes in attacks on a Maghreb state” on the 9/11 anniversary.


Counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka said that if the theft is confirmed, the stolen aircraft could be used in at least two ways. “The first would be how commercial airliners were used on Sept. 11, 2001, literally turning an innocent mode of mass transit into a super-high precision guided missile of immense potency,” said Gorka, who holds the Maj. Gen. Charles Horner chair at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va.

“The second tactic could be to use the airframe with its civilian markings as a tool of deception to insert a full payload of armed terrorists into a locale that otherwise is always open to commercial carriers,” he said.

Michael Rubin, a counterterrorism specialist with the American Enterprise Institute, said commercial jetliners in the hands of terrorists could be formidable weapons. “Who needs ballistic missiles when you have passenger planes? Even empty, but loaded up with fuel they can be as devastating,” Rubin said. “Each plane could, if deployed by terrorists to maximum devastating effect, represent 1,000 civilian casualties.”


Among the potential targets are urban areas and economic targets, like Saudi Arabia’s oil fields.

“Anyone who has ever flown over Saudi Arabia at night can see refineries like Yanbu lit up like Christmas trees against the blackness of the desert,” Rubin said. “One Saudi security officer once told me that they would only have about 90 seconds to shoot down a hijacked plane from the time it left international airspace to impact in one of the region’s most important refineries.”

“What is striking is that more than a decade later, the United States hasn’t taken the need to safeguard what are effectively giant guided missiles seriously,” he said.