Egypt's chief investigator Ayman el-Muqadam said the Oct. 31 Russian Metrojet crash was not an "illegal or terrorist act" based on evidence collected thus far, the Associated Press reported Monday. El-Muqadam released the official statement following preliminary investigations of how the plane, which had left from Sharm el-Sheikh, crashed in the Sinai Peninsula just over 20 minutes after departure. Though the investigation is still underway, the Egyptian investigators' conclusion contradicts that of both Russia and the United States.
The two countries have, for the most part, agreed that the plane was brought down by a bomb, likely planted by a Sharm el-Sheikh airport employee who was recruited by ISIS. According to El-Muqadam, the investigators made a total of 15 trips to the crash site, analyzed 38 computers and two engine computers, and is moving the wreckage to Cairo to facilitate further investigation. Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, had little to say about Egypt's divergent conclusion in a conference call, according to The New York Times.
I can remind you of the conclusion of our experts from the special services, who came to the conclusion that it was a terrorist action.
Since the beginning of the investigation, Egypt has been hesitant to call the plane crash a terrorist attack. During November, Egypt barred all foreign news reporters from entering the airport to investigate, raising questions about its intentions to uncover the truth. As a result of the crash, which killed all 224 people onboard, Egypt's tourism industry has suffered major losses. In an attempt to curb those losses, the country may be trying to downplay the seriousness of the crash and its probable connection to ISIS.
In the past several years, Egypt has had its fair share of negative media coverage after a military coup, resulting in the ouster of former President and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi. Egypt's current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, ousted his predecessor Morsi and has since denounced Islamist politics as radical and extreme in order to maintain the public's support. Admitting that ISIS has infiltrated his nation may hurt his reputation for bringing peace and stability to Egypt.