ISIS claim downing of Russian Airliner
In a statement posted on the Aamaq website, which acts as a semi-official news agency for ISIS and then widely circulated on social media, Wilayat Sinai group claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian plane over Sinai.
The ISIS affiliated group said: “The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God.”
At the same time a video supposedly showing a missile being fired at an airliner and hitting it was posted on You Tube. The video, seen by SecurityMiddleEast, suggested that it was ISIS affiliated group shooting down the airliner. The video has now been removed from You Tube.
Wilayat Sinai are known to have MANPAD missiles but Egypt’s civilian aviation ministry said the plane had been at an altitude of 9,450m (31,000ft) when it disappeared. This is above the range of these weapons. According to Egyptian media, the pilot reported a technical failure shortly after take off and requested to land at a nearby airport.
Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov told Interfax news agency, “such reports cannot be considered true”. No evidence had been seen that indicated the plane was targeted, he said.
However, Lufthansa has said it would avoid flying over Sinai “as long as the cause for today’s crash has not been clarified” and Reuters has reported that Air France was doing the same.
Speaking exclusively to Security Middle East, James Abernethy a former British Intelligence Officer said, ” ISIS have never claimed something before they haven’t had a hand in. The lack of a mayday message suggests a catastrophic event and there are a number of possibilities. A major mechanical or structural failure that caused the aircraft to break up at altitude, but this is unlikely in a serviceable aircraft. Some kind of internal or external “event” possibly caused by an explosion. If external then the ISIS claim and video could be accurate but this means they have got their hands of some very sophisticated weapons like the Russian BUK that brought down the Malayasia Airline over Ukraine; the implication for all passenger aircraft flying near conflict zones is enormous. Another possibility is some form of internal explosion through a device smuggled onto the aircraft either by a suicide bomber or by someone at the airport before the aircraft took off. Finally the innocent option is someone smuggled something onto the aircraft that is against air transport regulations and this caused an explosion. These possibilities will be examined in detail during the investigation”.
KGL9268, an Airbus A321 had just left the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and was bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg. It was carrying 217 passengers, 138 of them women and 17 children aged between 2 and 17. Most were tourists. There were seven crew on board. Reports from the Egyptian rescue teams say there were no survivors.
ISIS reports and videos were intercepted by Global Risk Awareness, a leading Cyber Intelligence organisation.