The same day four U.S. Marines were killed in an act of radical Islamic terrorism in Tennessee, a St. Paul, Minnesota councilman decided to compare U.S. Army pilots to the al Qaeda hijackers of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. For some reason, the councilman’s comments went unnoticed – though not unquoted – by local media. Perhaps it is because Dave Thune, the official, has a colorful history.
The Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) is conducting training in the Twin Cities this week. According to media reports, this is the second time in several years that the regiment has sent aircrews and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to train in the urban environment of the Twin Cities. Helicopters have been spotted flying between buildings in downtown areas and hugging the ground just above tree-top level over some residential areas.
If you are given to conspiracies, such as the one surrounding Jade Helm 15 in the southwest, this could be another wonderful moment. Councilman Thune doesn’t appear to subscribe to conspiracies, but he did make the outrageous claim that Army helicopters flying close to tall buildings is similar to hijacked commercial airlines plowing into skyscrapers.
“[T]here were helicopters flying between buildings downtown. Forget that they’re well trained and everything — the last time an aircraft hit a building, the World Trade Center fell down. That’s what they’re screwing with here,” Thune complained to the press.
In a bit of irony, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota are home to the largest Somali community inside the U.S. Blackhawk helicopters came to cinematic fame in the movie “Blackhawk Down,” which depicts U.S. Army and CIA operations in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993.