ISIS’ Boasts About Plane Terror May Be Proven True

The specter of ISIS' being responsible for bringing down the passenger jet creates another frontline in foreign governments' war with the group

An Egyptian man lays flowers by the Metrojet crash site. — REUTERS
Nov 04, 2015 at 9:37 PM ET

U.S. and British officials now reportedly believe that a bomb may have brought down the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt over the weekend, a stunning reversal that would confirm many observers’ worst fears and give credence to a claim that ISIS has repeatedly made since the tragic event unfolded—and which Vocativ has monitored and reported on using our deep web technology.

New U.S. intelligence suggests that the plane crash was most likely caused by an explosive device on the plane planted by ISIS or an affiliate, a U.S. official familiar with the matter told CNN. Officials speaking with NBC News on Wednesday said that while they believed it’s “likely” that a bomb was on the plane, a mechanical failure remained a possibility.

British officials voiced similar suspicions earlier Wednesday, with Prime Minister David Cameron delaying flights from the U.K. to the Egyptian airport where the plane originated. “[A]s more information has come to light we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device,” Cameron said in a statement.

More A Brief History Of ISIS In The Sinai Peninsula

There’s been no immediate response from ISIS, but if the suspicion that it did bring down the plane with a bomb is proven, then it will raise the specter of yet another front on which Western governments will have to defend themselves and their people from the threat posed by ISIS.

ISIS first made its claim that its affiliate in the region had a hand in the crash of Metrojet Flight 9628, which killed all 224 passengers onboard, shortly after the disaster. In its initial statements, which Vocativ obtained, the group claimed its fighters “were able to shoot down the Russian plane above Sinai province.”

There has been no footage or indication from the wreckage that the plane was struck by an external object, however, and the ISIS affiliate in the area is not thought to possess anti-aircraft weapons capable of shooting down a plane at the height the jet was flying. These facts contributed to the early mocking of ISIS’ claims. Russian officials were fixated on the idea that terror was responsible for the crash, as opposed to a mechanical failure in the aircraft that would have cast one of the country’s companies in a bad light. But Egyptian officials quickly dismissed the notion, and U.S. and British officials hedged, downplaying the possibility of a terror attack. 

But, as Vocativ showed, ISIS and its supporters remained insistent. Supporters of the group on Tuesday began boasting of its ability to down an aircraft. Accounts affiliated with the terror group resurfaced official images published by the ISIS satellite group Sinai Province in September that showed ISIS members in Egypt purportedly undergoing anti-aircraft and anti-tank training—though they were being trained in the use of equipment that is not thought to be capable of shooting down this particular flight. 

More ISIS Celebrates Russian Plane Crash, Threatens “More Attacks”

Wednesday morning, ISIS’ Sinai affiliate doubled-down. “Take the wreckage and search. Take the black box and analyze it,” the group said in an audio message, which Vocativ reviewed. “With God’s help we will elaborate on how we downed it in the appropriate time and way.”

The audio message did not provide any clues about how it could have actually downed the plane, but the boastful voice said those details would come. “For those who say (we) are liars and doubt, we say, ‘Die in your rage. We are those who downed it with God’s help and we are not obliged to elaborate on the way we downed it’.”

The Egyptian government announced Wednesday that it has replaced the head of Sharm el-Sheikh airport, the place from which the doomed plane departed.