Russian Airliner Shot Down?

Speculation, as always in air disasters is rife. Normally when it’s a Russian airliner that goes down the Western press is full of speculation about incompetent Russians and their inability to fly. This time however, the focus is directly on “terrorist attack”. Something that would be routinely denied were it a Western aircraft.

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The video clip posted to the Internet claiming to be from ISIS is to be dismissed. It is such an obvious and crude fake that even Whitehall and Whitehouse Trolls Bellingcat and Weisburd would have a hard time convincing themselves of its authenticity. They will need to wait for instructions on how to interpret this event to come down from on high.

Or maybe they’d like to geo-locate this for us:

isis with surface to air missile, photo from al-arabiya article linked below

Meanwhile we note that in the first days of the Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict rumours were rife that Saudi Arabia would supply surface-to-air missiles to ISIS. We also note that the Sinai, where the crash occured, is but a stone’s throw from the Saudi Arabian border and you could walk it, if the Red Sea wasn’t in the way.

Here’s some links to news stories from early October discussing the alleged Saudi plan to supply ISIS with advanced surface-to-air missiles and the risk to civilian airliners this entailed:

ISIS fighters seen with advanced antiaircraft missiles

Saudi Arabia increasing weapon supplies to Syrian rebels following Russian airstrikes

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Supply Surface-To-Air-Missiles to Terrorists

Saudis Just Upgraded the Terrorists with Surface-to-Air Missiles

Saudi’s Resupply Syria Terrorists, may plan terror attacks on US and Russia

Saudi Increases Arms Supplies to 3 Syrian Terrorist Fronts

These articles are mostly based upon hearsay statements from an “anonymous official” made around one week after the Russian intervention began. Hardly what you would call “verifiable”, but one must consider that the same “anonymous officials” are quoted verbatim whenever Western policy is being “discussed”.

With the number of publications on the Internet coincidence alone is enough to explain one that accurately “predicts” future events. While there maybe millions of websites, the actual sources of information are few and far between. Most news sites are simply cutting and pasting syndicated stories from “the wires”, editing them to suit their own ad-words and search-engine optimization strategies. If sources are given as “anonymous officials”, you may as well go ask bekllingcat what happened.

Meanwhile…the Investigation Continues

The “official” response from Russia is worth noting for it’s lack of sensationalism, finger-pointing, or speculation. Accident investigators have been given a leading role – as opposed to packed off to the Hague with pre-written conclusions in one hand and gag orders in the other.

Russia’s investigators are urging people to wait for the investigation before drawing conclusions or speculating. A sombre Russian press is largely following this advice, covering the on-going speculation only as “part of the story”, within the “there is no evidence yet” context rather than as a central theme.

Compare Russia’s reaction to this air disaster to the West’s “Putin’s Missile” reaction to MH17.

Now consider the statements put out by the upper-class twit that is the Prime Minister of the UK. On 4th Nov he agreed with Dictator Sisi of Egypt that “it is important not to prejudge the investigation“, then immediately afterwards had his office issue a statement that the UK govt believes it was a bomb on board. Presumably to let Sisi know the value of any agreements he might ill-advisedly sign with the UK.

Updated – 6th Nov

It is becoming increasingly likely that a bomb, probably in passenger baggage, bought down the aircraft. With the UK and USA leading the charges. Russia has stopped flights to Egypt and will likely involve its Mediterrean Navy in the operation to repatriate its estimated 45,000 citizens. Britain has also suspended flights to the Sinai and, in true British fashion, has told it’s 12,000 citizens in the region that they can find their own way home.

While the major powers are straightening the lines prior to the conflagration, let us step back a bit and look at the bigger picture.

Egypt

Egypt recently bought the Mistral hulls from France, which helped the French out of a sticky situation. At the same time, it helped Russia. Egypt had the hulls, which were more or less useless, and they purchased the command and control equipment from Russia. So Russia got her money back too. A reasonably diplomatic move from mass-murdering Sisi seemingly intended to keep all sides happy.

The air disaster occured directly before Sisi’s visit to London, and thus will have formed the major topic of discussion, at least as far as any putative press-releases and or joint-statements may be concerned.

So we’ve got Egypt under a new dictator somewhat adrift, hated at home, rather concerned about the way things are going in Syria, the chaos of Lybia on his doorstep, and the loss of large parts of the Sinai. If ever a man needed friends.

So they are all trying to court him at the moment, but what does he actually have to offer?

Syria

Not much to add. The Russian air campaign is apparantly going well, and the re-opening of the highway to Aleppo, a clear early objective, would seem to sub-stantiate that. Nevertheless there are many nations who would like Russia out of Syria and we do not need to list their names. Obama’s about turn on putting US boots on the ground only complicates matters and even neo-con ‘thought leaders’ are openly writing that they are there as human shields to protect the United State’s relativly, compared to a liver-eating loon, but not exactly the kind of dudes you’d want your daughter to bring home, moderate rebels.

The US seemingly unable to give up on the ‘no fly zones’ and trying to create a de-facto Kurdish state in Northern Syria populate by Turkish Kurds that Erdogan intends to forcibly deport there, at of course the expense of the several million non-Kurdish residents who will marched off to the coast and told “The EU is thataway. You’re welcome“.

Airline Security

We have some very troubling questions here. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11th 2001 airline security, at least as far as international air traffic is concerned, has become very effective. Attempts to get bombs on board have been reduced to half-wits carrying what turn out to be duds in their shoes and underpants.

So how is it that ISIS are able to get a bomb through the security of an international passenger airline with such apparant ease less than five weeks after Russia started attacking them?

It’s more than 18 months since ISIS overran Mosul, and they held swathes of Syrian territory before that. Yet in all that time they have apparantly not even attempted to attack an airline. Now they can order them up with a month’s notice.

If Sisi is unable to prevent bombs being inserted into the baggage of international air traffic then he has even less to offer than we thought.

This being the first time ISIS have downed a plane is another assumption. Perhaps we need to look again at the downing of the Germanwings A320 in France this year. Perhaps this isn’t the first time ISIS have got a bomb onto a plane, but we’re not supposed to know that. The Germanwings plane came down while France were still mourning the loss of their racist cartoonists so there was every reason to write it off as the unlikey “pilot went berserk and killed himself and all his passengers and crew“.

Oil

Running through the war as its central theme remains oil, with a bit of gas on the side. Even the IMF are saying that if the Saudis keep up with their low-price oil they will be bancrupt within five years. On the other hand, if Russia and Saudi Arabi were to agree to cut production by just 10% the price will double to $100 a barrel. This would be very good for both of them and would allow the USA to ramp-up its shale oil once a gain. For the EU it would be a catastroshpere but nobody, that’s literally nobody, gives a damn about the EU no more.

EU

What is there left to be said? Hold you nose, and pull the chain. Merkel has paid Erdogan €3bn and promised to “review” Turkey’s application to join the EU if he’ll take the refugees back.

Updated 18-Nov-2015

Although we stand by our statement above in which we dismissed the ISIS video that was said to show a missile attack, we now have reason to believe it may show the bomb attack. At the time of writing the focus had been on a missile strike, which the clip does not imply. Now that there is evidence of a bomb on board, the video takes on a new significance centered not so much on what it shows, but where the videographer, if we may call him that, was at the time.

Information recently published in Dabiq magazine and widely reported shows the assembly of the bomb in a tin-can, and passports of Russian victims. This would appear to indicate that ISIS members knew in advance where the aircraft would come down and had been pre-positioned to loot the wreckage – and take videos. Thus placing them in the ideal spot to record the explosion.

The passports have not been authenticated yet, and the scans published are of a nature that would be easy to fake. We’ve published fake Russian passport scans ourselves. We are not going to show the passports featured by ISIS as they, if genuine, feature victim’s personal details.

Meanwhile we will infer that if the passports are fake, then so is the video. If the passports are real, then they were likely stolen by the same people who took the video and it is likely genuine.

In this latter case it would mean that the bomb was assembled in Egypt – it was placed in a can of pineapple flavour drink made in Egypt for the Egyptian market. The bomb was planted in Egypt – through a hole in security that ISIS had discovered sometime in advance. The bomb was detonated in Egyptian airspace and ISIS were the first-responders – otherwise how else did they obtain these passports?

So even if we turn out to be wrong about a three-second grainy Internet video clip, we stand by our assertation that if ever there was a man in need of friends, it’s General Sisi.

The existance of such passports, if genuine, also undermines conspiracy theories regarding passports being ‘planted’ in other attacks. The passport is made to be durable and is often the first means by which victims are identified.

Related
We noted the security situation in the Sinai last month in our article on Colour Revolution Recap.

We live-blogged the siezure of power in Cairo in 2013 with our page The Sugarcoated Coup.

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