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Government Transportation News Politics

UK and US Suspect That ISIS Bomb Took Down Flight 9268 (cnn.com) 289

An anonymous reader writes with a report from CNN that U.S. and UK intelligence agencies believe it is more likely than not that the destruction on October 31st of a Russian A321 jetliner in Sinai "was most likely caused by a bomb on the plane planted by ISIS or an affiliate of the group." Kogalymavia Flight 9268 fell apart in flight, killing all aboard. From CNN's article: The British government announced Wednesday that it had "become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device." A formal conclusion has not been reached by the intelligence communities of either country. An UK aviation team is travelling to inspect the Sharm airport to look at whether there were proper security measures at the airport and the various scenarios by which an explosive device could have made it to the Russian airliner "including a person or in cargo," according to the British transport minister. Both Russian and Egyptian officials discount the claim, but detecting bombs is hard.
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UK and US Suspect That ISIS Bomb Took Down Flight 9268

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  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:01AM (#50870097)

    More likely than not most likely!

  • by Xenna ( 37238 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:09AM (#50870123)

    Don't discount the possibility of an accident. Something very similar happened to China Airlines flight 611

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    A tail section badly repaired after a minor accident came off in mid-air. The airplane spun out of control and disintegrated before crashing into the ground. That fits this accident very well.

    Without conclusive evidence of a bomb, I would be very careful to scream terrorism. Terrorists claiming responsibility doesn't mean a thing without evidence.

    • And Japanes Airlines 123 [wikipedia.org]. That happened 7 years after the original tailstrike.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I certainly wouldn't rule it out, but the evidence released seems pretty fitting to the bomb scenario as well. It's not just the "satellite recorded a heat signature bit" because that could have been the plane itself exploding, though.

      It's the fact that (according to what we've heard in the news) the plane broke up almost exactly when it reached a certain altitude. Why is this important? Because the single most effective way to trigger a bomb in an airliner is to tie it to an altimeter, so that the bomb
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the plane broke up almost exactly when it reached a certain altitude.

        Isn't this true of any break up that happens during the ascent period?

      • It's the fact that (according to what we've heard in the news) the plane broke up almost exactly when it reached a certain altitude. Why is this important? Because the single most effective way to trigger a bomb in an airliner is to tie it to an altimeter, so that the bomb will only go off once it's taken above the set height.

        In this case, that's actually evidence against an altitude-triggered bomb. The flight was last tracked on radar at 31,000 ft. Far, far above the internal pressurization, which is us

    • The altitude profile reminded me of TWA 800 [wikipedia.org]. The sudden climb then fall looks like the plane might have overbalanced towards the tail, which might be indicative of losing a forward section of the fuselage, whether by bomb or technical fault.

      But, I am not an aeronautical engineer etc...

    • Airbus performed the repair apparently after its 2001 tail strike. Also, the aircraft underwent a major maintenance interval recently.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      A tail section badly repaired after a minor accident came off in mid-air. The airplane spun out of control and disintegrated before crashing into the ground. That fits this accident very well.

      Without conclusive evidence of a bomb, I would be very careful to scream terrorism. Terrorists claiming responsibility doesn't mean a thing without evidence.

      Actually determining if a plane was downed because of a bomb or not is fairly easy. So easy, it's one of the first scenarios they test and eliminate in most crashe

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Don't discount the possibility of an accident. Something very similar happened to China Airlines flight 611 ...A tail section badly repaired after a minor accident came off in mid-air. The airplane spun out of control and disintegrated before crashing into the ground. That fits this accident very well.

      Note the following about this particular plane [wikipedia.org]:

      On 16 November 2001, while operating for Middle East Airlines as F-OHMP, the aircraft suffered a tailstrike landing in Cairo. It was repaired and went back into service with the airline in 2002.

      Another incident that comes to mind is Aloha Airlines 243 [wikipedia.org], which was also a cruising altitude when a large part of the fuselage suddenly ripped off the plane for no apparent reason. "Metal fatigue" was cited. The only fatality was a flight attendant who happened to be standing in the aisle by the new hole in the plane. So it is certainly not unheard of for there to be fuselage failures at cruising altitude (where the air pressure differential would be greatest)

  • Convenient timing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:19AM (#50870177)

    So although the experts don't know what caused the crash, it seems that the British PM David Cameron does know, and it's ISIS.

    In other news, Cameron wants British airstrikes on ISIS but can't get the support of parliament. [theguardian.com]

    No matter how much I tell myself that correlation is not causation, this just looks like too much of a coincidence.

    • by bareman ( 60518 )

      Agreed. At this point the bomb story sounds more like a politically convenient tale than an evidence based explanation.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:21AM (#50870191)

    Both Russian and Egyptian officials discount the claim, but detecting bombs is hard.

    Not after the fact. If there was an explosion inside the cabin or luggage compartment, there will be internal paneling, structural members, etc., blackened and bent and peppered with explosive ejecta littering the deserts of the Sinai. That debris will look radically different from a structural failure due to metal fatigue, composite fairlures, bad repairs, etc., and will be in the wrong place to be the result of a fuel tank explosion. (And, an internal bomb will bend things out, while a missile strike will bend things in.) Making this determination in a case like this (where all of the debris should be easy to find) should be a straightforward case of air crash forensics.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:58AM (#50870873)

      Both Russian and Egyptian officials discount the claim, but detecting bombs is hard.

      Not after the fact. If there was an explosion inside the cabin or luggage compartment, there will be internal paneling, structural members, etc., blackened and bent and peppered with explosive ejecta littering the deserts of the Sinai. That debris will look radically different from a structural failure due to metal fatigue, composite fairlures, bad repairs, etc., and will be in the wrong place to be the result of a fuel tank explosion. (And, an internal bomb will bend things out, while a missile strike will bend things in.) Making this determination in a case like this (where all of the debris should be easy to find) should be a straightforward case of air crash forensics.

      How correct you are. One of the most interesting aviation photographs I've ever seen was a re-assembly of the Pan Am Lockerbie 747 that was brought down by a bomb over Scotland. The investigation showed that a bomb located on the left hand side of the plane probably brought down the aircraft. The investigators then took all the pieces of the left hand side of the plane that they could find and laboriously pieced them together like a jig saw puzzle on a huge scaffolding. The explosion effects (metal ripped and bent outwards) and hole made by the explosion were obvious from the re-construction.

      Gordon

      • by trawg ( 308495 )

        Thanks for mentioning that. I was curious as to how they did that kind of thing; after your post I had a quick Google and found some of the images - all watermarked terribly by Getty; maybe there are better ones elsewhere but I was fascinated:

        http://www.gettyimages.com.au/... [gettyimages.com.au]

    • If there was an explosion inside the cabin or luggage compartment, there will be internal paneling, structural members, etc., blackened and bent and peppered with explosive ejecta littering the deserts of the Sinai.

      That's actually part of the difficulty. The parts which clearly indicate it was a bomb because of blackened and bent pieces are scattered around the crash site, impossible to tell where they originally came from. So there's usually no direct evidence of a bomb.

      What you end up doing instead

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:31AM (#50870245)

    It's sad! The western media, with no personnel on the ground but with their respective government agendas to advance, report news with innuendos being taken as the truth by the consuming public.

    No wonder none of them took their governments to task when Iraq was being bombed years ago.

    Question: Who provides reliable truthful media reports in today?

    • "Question: Who provides reliable truthful media reports in today?"

      I've had pretty good luck with trusting a reporter who goes by the moniker "Anonymous Coward".

    • by Spaham ( 634471 )

      there's lots of personnel on the ground, what are you talking about ?
      most debris were found, I'm sure they have a pretty good idea of what they looked like and if there's any trace of explosion or not already.

  • There will be copious evidence of a bomb in the wreckage - from chemical traces to the way the fragments look. Enough with the propaganda from the IC.

  • We haven't had a bomb go off in a plane here in the US. Perhaps they want to take our TSA force and use it abroad. I mean completely--the TSA can leave here and go work in Russia.

  • by Burn The Cheese ( 4304229 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:37AM (#50870275)
    Are these the same intelligence agencies that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? Trillions of dollars and millions of deaths later, I am not so fast to accept this convenient accusation.
    • Who knows what the intelligence agencies actually found out; we are always getting the message the administration wants to get out, regardless of the actual facts, whether it's Obama or Bush.

  • Oh noes!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hort_wort ( 1401963 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @10:40AM (#50870291)

    Quick, everyone! Let's invade... *spins a globe* Zimbabwe!

  • They were found a couple of days after the crash and so far, it's only "suspected" what caused the crash. One would think that the data of those black boxes would reveal what was going on.

    On other plane crashes - to find the black boxes solved the cause of the crash and the reasons were published.

    Now this this, what is taking so long?
    Sure gives reason to speculation.

    • One would think that the data of those black boxes would reveal what was going on.

      I wouldn't, but then I'm not labouring under the misapprehension that they record 360x180 degree HD video.

      They capture basic flight parameters like speed, altitude, angle, control positions etc. If the tail was blown off by a bomb, bitten off by a dragon or fell off of its own accord because some vodka-sozzled dunderhead used chewing gum instead of rivets the trace would be pretty similar.

      Voice? There might be the first syl

      • by no-body ( 127863 )
        As for voice - apparently, there were attempts to change course and to an emergency landing on another airport and there was apparently an emergency situation then communication broke up. Your Russian "" assumption is probably wrong. If there is a will to get this resolved, there is a way, as seen there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] No need for a 360x180 degree HD video. The delay in comments/news on black box content sure is weird and that's not addressed in your response.
    • Black boxes almost never give you the answer right away. In the case of an explosion you might see some of the sudden loss of a number of systems, smoke, fire, loss of air pressure, fuel lines cut, and a bunch of other things. But it won't tell you the cause of the explosion. It could be a bomb. Something in the cargo. Attack.

      That plus it will take at least a day to even get the black boxes to a proper laboratory to do the examination. You don't just pop open the box and hook up the storage medium to a l

  • I watched a few minutes of CNN last night, they were bringing on any asshole to try to talk up the idea of a bomb on the plan. Plans can actually have internal explosions not related to a bomb. The speed at which the British trotted this bullshit out was suspect. Either they had intelligence and didn't do anything with it, or it's just a propaganda game being run by intelligence services. Either way, it's just spitting in the face of reality that people died and an investigation is required without a pre

    • by cHiphead ( 17854 )

      What the fuck kind of typo was repeating there. Plans. What.

      *Planes.

    • There is reasonable evidence floating around-- what looks like shrapnel in the rear exit door panels, and an "ejection" hole in the same vicinity of the airframe. Nothing conclusive-- the "shrapnel" could have been caused by the door falling on the rocks and being repositioned by search and rescue personnel.

      I give it about 60-40 odds of being a bomb vs structural failure from repair.

  • Pretty much stopped reading there. I know where this ends.
  • Cloak and dagger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:35AM (#50870675) Homepage Journal

    I think there are a couple things going on here. First off, Russia (as in Putin and the government) desperately wants this to be an accident or something they can at least claim to be an accident (and by accident I mean some massive mechanical failure of the plane where it spontaneously broke into pieces during the safest part of flight when cruising). A successful attack by ISIS is the last thing they want, because up to this point Russia appears strong and unassailable in their air campaign in Syria. If this was an attack by ISIS it shows that Russian people have been directly attacked and are vulnerable. So I would imagine Russia would drags its feet as much as possible in admitting it if this is indeed an attack by ISIS, although the direct involvement of so many other countries in the investigation may make that difficult.

    The other thing going on is US intelligence. This crash happened in one of the most intensely watched areas of the world. Sinai is the buffer area that lies between Israel and Egypt. In addition to the US's spy satellites, drones, etc, Israel certainly has its own close surveillance of the region as well. It has already been leaked that US satellites detected a "heat flash" while the plane was at altitude. More than likely the US or Israel has direct evidence that a bomb went off in flight, but the information is too sensitive (for example, betraying just how good the US's surveillance technology is) that no one can officially and unequivocally state that it was a bomb.

    That pretty much leaves one other semi-realistic scenario, which is that a repair made a long time ago has failed. Again, that is very unlikely, because a structural failure of that kind would happen when the plane is under maximum stress - during the take off and climb. Not when the plane is at altitude and cruising along with very, very little stress on the airframe. Further, pictures of the tail after the crash show the tail is still attached to the fuselage. The type of tail failures in the past with the Airbus (like flight 587) were the rudder, not the entire tail. With the Russian plane, the entire tail section was intact and attached to the rear fuselage, but separate from the plane. That is a gross failure of the entire fuselage itself, not the tail failing.

    It's very likely that both the US and Russia already knows for certain what happened - if it was a bomb it would be extremely obvious from examining the wreckage.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I'm trying to decide why Russia is so eager to say it wasn't a bomb.

      Since caution and reason aren't part of the usual repertoire of Russian responses, I can only guess that the knee-jerk reaction is not to admit any vulnerability. A failure of the aircraft itself would be something they could blame on the west and sanctions.

      On the other hand, a terror attack on Russian civilians like this has massive propaganda value for a country doubling down on a long-simmering Middle Eastern civil war. It would give t

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      That pretty much leaves one other semi-realistic scenario, which is that a repair made a long time ago has failed.

      Turns out there was a tail repair to this aircraft [wikipedia.org] years ago:

      On 16 November 2001, while operating for Middle East Airlines as F-OHMP, the aircraft suffered a tailstrike landing in Cairo. It was repaired and went back into service with the airline in 2002.

      Again, that is very unlikely, because a structural failure of that kind would happen when the plane is under maximum stress - during the take off and climb.

      Aloha Airlines 243 [wikipedia.org] had a massive structural failure of the fuselage while at cruising altitude. The cause was put down to metal fatigue. So it has been known to happen.

  • CIA, Saudis To Give "Select" Syrian Militants Weapons Capable Of Downing Commercial Airliners (link below). And we know all the arm drops the CIA has done hoping they get in the "right" hands has never landed in ISIS hands. Proxy war anyone? CIA payback for Ukraine or making the US look bad in Syria or.... http://www.zerohedge.com/news/... [zerohedge.com]
  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @12:44PM (#50871207)

    CNN unsurprisingly had been running hard with the bomb narrative even before they had any evidence of any kind to support it.

    If people in the US government are making the claim a bomb took down flight 9268 then why the hell does this information have to be unofficially leaked to the media with no attribution? Is there no better way to communicate? The same person apparently hedges by saying "there has not been a formal conclusion" and uses weasel words like "definite feeling" ... WTF does that even mean?

    The bomb narrative happens to be the most profitable one for both stated US interests against Russia's Syria adventures and CNN's ratings with all assertions carefully constructed such that they get to walk away when they are proven to be wrong.

    I have no faith or reason to believe any of this conjecturbation. I'll wait for investigation by the grownups actually doing the work.

  • So, I'm supposed to believe that ISIS did it but unlike the other 10,000,000,000 things they've done they just conveniently forgot to release a polished video where some English-speaking nutjob pontificates on how they just struck another major blow to "the enemies of Allah"? Not buying it.

    Remember the first rule of terrorist attacks: the problem isn't trying to determine *if* it was a terrorist attack, the problem is determining *which* of the 50 psychos taking responsibility for it actually did it.

  • Meanwhile more than three thousand people are killed daily in traffic accidents (1.24 million per year): http://www.who.int/gho/road_sa... [who.int]

    And cars are just getting more powerful and fast.
  • This is a Daily Mail article [dailymail.co.uk] quoting Pravda, a Russian newspaper.

    Disregard the sources above for a moment, not known for being the most objective. However, look at the photos. They do show what appears to be shrapnel piercing the body from the inside out. Gives credence to the bomb theory.

    Other indicators:

    - USA satellite is said to detect a heat flash, probably from an explosion (could be a bomb or could be fuel tanks exploding)
    - Egypt replaces the airport manager (then say, not this was not replacing, it w

  • ISIS doesn't really have a reason to attack Russia. Russia is only performing a small amount of their attacks against ISIS as they are more concerned with helping Assad defeating the rebel groups. Essentially Assad is concentrating on the rebels and leaving ISIS to the US and it's allies. The token Russian attacks against ISIS are just to basically to say that they are there to fight ISIS.

    Going into tin-foil hat territory I could see Russia bombing the airplane and letting ISIS take the blame in order to

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