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U.S. official confirms 727 jet missing

From Pam Benson
CNN Washington Bureau

A Boeing 727 appears in this file photograph.
A Boeing 727 appears in this file photograph.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior U.S. official confirms that the government of Angola has reported a missing Boeing 727 aircraft.

The plane apparently departed from Angola several days ago on a flight to Burkina Faso, in northwestern Africa, but it never made it to its destination, and its whereabouts are unknown, this official said.

The official said there is "no evidence or information to suggest this is terrorist-related," and suggested "it is most likely criminal." According to this official, the plane was leased, and the people involved were behind in their payments.

U.S. law enforcement and the intelligence community are working with the Angolan government to help determine what happened to the plane. When asked if there had been any intelligence from the region suggesting any terrorist activity related to a plane, the official said, "Nothing I'm aware of."

U.S. officials have recently expressed concern that al Qaeda could use aircraft to carry out a terrorist attack against U.S. interests overseas.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory to the U.S. aviation community citing "recent reliable reports" indicating al Qaeda was in the final stages of planning an aerial suicide attack against the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. According to a source who read the notice, it noted "al Qaeda's continuing fixation with using explosive-laden small aircraft."

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