By Nicholas Elden
On October 31, a Russian commercial jet crashed in Egypt’s Sinai region, killing all 224 people onboard. The plane vanished from radar screens 25 minutes after takeoff. Lufthansa and Air France responded by rerouting flights over the region as more details emerged about the crash. The self-proclaimed Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the incident several hours after the crash.
While advanced surface-to-air technology, such as man-portable air defense systems, may be available to take down aircrafts with ease, their range is limited. Pilot error and technical malfunctions have still not been ruled out as causes of the crash. CNN reports, “Investigators analyzing flight recording data have concluded that the explosion that took down the plane was ‘not accidental.’”
British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond stated about the crash, “We have concluded that there is a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft,” reports BBC. On November 5, United States and European security officials concurred that a bomb may have been placed on board the plane by militants. This was denied by Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal said, “There had been no sign of any problems onboard the flight.”
The widow of the flight’s co-pilot, Sergei Trukhachev, stated that her “husband had complained the plane’s condition ‘left much to be desired’ during a telephone call before the flight left Sharm el-Sheikh.” The plane was confirmed to be in fair condition upon takeoff and confirmation about the exact cause of crash are still being debated upon, pending review of the plane’s black box.
Andrew Roth and Griff Witte of the Washington Post report that U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western officials are aware of the alleged bomb theory. President Obama stated in a radio interview with Seattle-based KIRO Radio, “We’re going to spend a lot of time just making sure our own investigators and own intelligence community find out what’s going on before we make any definitive pronouncements. But it’s certainly possible that there was a bomb on board.”
Russia Today confirms that three British airlines will conduct flights for thousands of British tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh. Russian officials still refuse to verify any of the causes that brought the jet down. U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Russia Today, “All the available evidence so far indicates that the Russian airliner crash was caused by an Islamic State bomb attack.”