Reuters is reporting that investigators believe a sound heard at the very last second of the cockpit voice recorder was almost certainly a bomb detonating.
Egyptian authorities say they are “90% sure” the sound was an explosive device. Immediately after the sound was heard, the plane broke up in mid-air.
Investigators of the Russian plane crash in Egypt are “90 percent sure” the noise heard in the final second of a cockpit recording was an explosion caused by a bomb, a member of the investigation team told Reuters on Sunday.
The Airbus (AIR.PA) A321 crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the Sharm al-Sheikh tourist resort eight days ago, killing all 224 passengers and crew. Islamic State militants fighting Egyptian security forces in Sinai said they brought it down.
“The indications and analysis so far of the sound on the black box indicate it was a bomb,” said the Egyptian investigation team member, who asked not to be named due to sensitivities. “We are 90 percent sure it was a bomb.”
His comments reflect a higher degree of certainty about the cause of the crash than the investigation committee has so far declared in public.
Lead investigator Ayman al-Muqaddam announced on Saturday that the plane appeared to have broken up in mid-air while it was being flown on auto-pilot, and that a noise had been heard in the last second of the cockpit recording. But he said it was too soon to draw conclusions about why the plane crashed.
Confirmation that militants brought down the airliner could have a devastating impact on Egypt’s lucrative tourist industry, which has suffered from years of political turmoil and was hit last week when Russia, Turkey and several European countries suspended flights to Sharm al-Sheikh and other destinations.
It could also mark a new strategy by the hardline Islamic State group which holds large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, British intelligence believes they overheard individuals who may have had a hand in building the bomb celebrating immediately after the bomb went off.
BRITISH extremists were behind the bombing of a Russian jet over Egypt, intelligence experts believe.
They were overheard celebrating moments after the explosion that blew the plane apart, killing all 224 on board.
The jihadis were heard talking in Birmingham and London accents by spies at GCHQ in Cheltenham.
Trained in Syria and with an electronics background, it is believed they may have had a hand in building the bomb.
The success of the attack could inspire them to target British airports next, a former Special Branch officer warned last night.
GCHQ, the Government’s secret listening centre, picked up “chatter” from extremist groups in Egypt immediately after the Russian plane came down.
The regional accents suggest “a definite and strong link” between British extremists and the attack, according to intelligence sources.
“Jihadis in the Sinai area of Egypt could be heard celebrating,” one source said yesterday.
“A closer analysis of that material has identified London and Birmingham accents among those numerous voices.
“There has also been some internet traffic suggesting that there was British involvement in the attack. This was a very sophisticated, carefully planned operation involving many moving parts.
“We know there are British jihadis in Egypt fighting with members of Islamic State. They were trained in Syria and are now hardened terrorists. Some of the Britons have an electronics background and have been developing some very sophisticated bombs.
“They have been experimenting with different-sized charges and different types of explosives but there was nothing prior to this attack to suggest that they were going after airlines.”
Is this the start of what European authorities have been worried about since their Muslim citizens traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS? Not only have hundreds of these ISIS fighters returned home, the recent influx of Muslim refugees — thousands of whom have left detention camps and disappeared into the population — may also contribute to a wave of terror attacks that might be in the offing.
The planting of a bomb on a passenger plane represents a fundamental change in the threat posed by Islamic State. They may have used an airport notorious for lax security. But given our own problems with airport security, there’s no reason to believe they won’t try something in the U.S.