political News

Unbound

Black Boxes Show bomb Brought down the Plane

... CNN:

A British passenger jet headed to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh narrowly dodged a missile in August, the UK media reported following a Russian jet crash in the same area this week.

The Thomson Airways jet with 189 people aboard took off from London and was headed to the Red Sea resort, according to The Guardian.

It said the jet came within 1,000 feet of a missile in its trajectory, and went on to land safely on August 23. The paper said passengers were kept in the dark about the incident.

A UK government spokesman confirmed the media reports, saying an investigation determined the rocket did not come from militants.

"We investigated the reported incident at the time and concluded that it was not a targeted attack and was likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time," the spokesman said in a statement. 

Crashed Russian airliner

The revelation comes days after a Russian passenger jet crashed in the Sinai region last weekend, killing all 224 people aboard. U.S. and UK officials have raised suspicion about the possibility of a bomb aboard the jet, an assertion Egypt has denied.

Egyptian aviation officials plan to hold a news conference Saturday amid dueling theories on what caused the Russian passenger jet to crash.

European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Russian Metrojet plane that crashed in Egypt are saying the crash is not an accident, CNN affiliate France 2 reported Friday.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder of Metrojet Flight 9268 shows an explosion and the flight data recorder confirms the explosion is not accidental -- there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, France 2 reported.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, according to France 2.

Experts weigh in

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

"It's this split second, and it's a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description," he said. "And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that ... heard it and they can identify it."

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise -- and for a longer time, he said. 

Egypt's announcement

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday suspended Russian air traffic with Egypt until the cause of the crash can be determined, the Kremlin said.

The United States and Britain shared their intelligence with Russia before Putin decided to suspend flights, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN's Matthew Chance.

Putin spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the security situation in Egypt.

"The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation between the relevant security authorities in the two countries," el-Sisi's office said.

Russia's resistance

Russia previously resisted the theory that a bomb brought down the airliner.

The jet, carrying mostly Russian families returning from Red Sea vacations, was 23 minutes into its flight Saturday from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia, when it disappeared from radar over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. A U.S. satellite detected a heat flash over Sinai. The plane broke apart and fell 30,000 feet. All aboard died.

Russia's about-face buttressed a theory about the cause of the crash. As investigators pick through the rubble of the Russian airliner, and as Western officials sift through their own intelligence reports, some have suspected Flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb planted in its hold.

Some also think the bomb may have been smuggled on board in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the flight departed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday suspended Russian air traffic with Egypt until the cause of the crash can be determined, the Kremlin said.

The United States and Britain shared their intelligence with Russia before Putin decided to suspend flights, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN's Matthew Chance.

Putin spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the security situation in Egypt.

"The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation between the relevant security authorities in the two countries," el-Sisi's office said.

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

"It's this split second, and it's a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description," he said. "And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that ... heard it and they can identify it."

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise -- and for a longer time, he said. 

Bomb theory

The bombing theory emerged Wednesday, when Britain suspended flights from Sharm el-Sheikh to the United Kingdom because of security fears.

It became more pronounced when it was articulated by British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama, though neither expressed it as a certainly. Cameron said it was "more likely than not" that the cause of the crash was an onboard bomb. Obama said it was "certainly possible."

On Friday, the BBC quoted UK intelligence officials as saying the plane may have been brought down by a bomb smuggled on board by someone working at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh. The BBC said the intelligence came from "intercepted communication between militants in the Sinai Peninsula."

Egyptian officials publicly continue to push back against the likelihood of a bombing -- perhaps concerned about the country's crucial tourism sector -- but a high-level Egyptian official who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter said Friday the possibility of a bomb is "a theory we are not discarding."

Did ISIS down plane?

Signs pointing to ISIS as the culprit, another U.S. official said, are partially based on monitoring of the terrorist group's internal messages. Those messages are separate from public ISIS claims of responsibility, the official said.

In an audio message from ISIS' Sinai branch that was posted on terror-related social media accounts Wednesday, the organization adamantly insisted that it brought down the flight.

Typically, ISIS is quick to trumpet how and who carried out any attacks for purposes of praise and propaganda. To some, the fact that ISIS hasn't provided details in this case raised doubts about the group's claims of responsibility.

But Paul Cruickshank, a CNN expert on terrorism, said the lack of detail might have been to protect a mole recruited in the airport to plant the bomb on the plane.

 
READ MORE