Was The Russian Plane Crash Terrorism? ISIS Is Claiming Responsibility For KGL-9268, But Officials Aren't So Sure

Debris of the A321 Russian airliner lie on the ground a day after the plane crashed in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. International investigators began probing why the Russian airliner carrying 224 people crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, as rescue workers widened their search for missing victims. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

The initial investigation into the KGL-9268 jet crash in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday is bringing a flurry of questions about the circumstances of the crash, not least of which is did terrorism cause the Russian plane crash? An Egyptian arm of the Syrian-based terrorist organization ISIS claimed responsibility for the crash via Twitter, stating that "the fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders." But is there any veracity to the claim?

Probably not, according to a high-ranking Egyptian military intelligence official. "The plane was flying at an altitude of 31,000 feet, out of the range of any weapons on the ground." There are certain types of surface-to-air missiles that have range over 30,000 feet (Russia has several of them) but there's no intelligence that suggests that ISIS has any weapons of that scope in that region. The operation of those complex missile systems requires engineers and 

Furthermore, there are no reports of blast impact on the body of the plane. "Disintegration of the fuselage took place in the air", said Viktor Sorochenko, executive director of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee. If there is any blame to be suspected, by ISIS or any other terrorist organization, the Russian spokesman made a concerted effort to ensure that was not the case. 

Yet, there are still some questions about the crash that haven't been adequately resolved yet. Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel stated that no distress calls were received in the final moments before the crash. "[The plane] suddenly disappeared from the radar." Additionally, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said that 20 minutes into a flight, "there is little that can or should go wrong." It's certainly troubling that there isn't any demonstrable cause of the crash yet.

But terrorism is still on the bottom of the list of possible causes of the crash. Egyptian Airports Company chief Adel Al-Mahjoob stated that although the plane passed a routine check before takeoff, the crash was most likely caused by technical failure.

More information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks — the airplane's "black boxes," the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, have already been transported to Cairo for analysis of the information. Both recorders should reveal valuable data about the cause of the crash and the final moments of the seven crew members. 

As always, this will be a slow-going process. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi admitted to high-ranking army officers on Sunday that "these are complicated matters that require advanced technologies and wide investigations that might go on for months." But it doesn't seem like any terrorist implications will be revealed from this investigation. 

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