The New York Times Monday editions are reporting a 'consensus' emerging among U.S. intelligence agencies that MetroJet flight 7K9268 was brought down by a terrorist bomb. The news came as Russia suspended airline and tourist charter flights to Egypt and began evacuating thousands of Russian citizens from the country over the weekend. According to the Los Angeles Times, there were at least 30,000 and possibly over 40,000 Russian nationals either living or vacationing in Egypt as of last week. Russian media pegged the number of compatriots in Egypt as high as 47,000. This means the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (whose acronym is pronounced M-Che-S) will require many aircraft and some days or weeks to evacuate all Russians from the country who voluntarily agree to leave. The United Kingdom meanwhile was also evacuating its citizens from Sharm el Sheikh after suspending all flights to the Red Sea resort. [embed]https://twitter.com/zerohedge/status/663442289067429888[/embed]
After an initial burst of official Russian anger over the UK telling the British press more about what it allegedly knows regarding the terrorists who likely bombed 7K9268 than Moscow's security services, cooperation has improved. After a direct phone call between PM David Cameron and President Vladimir Putin the Russian government's spokesmen and women indicated stepped up intelligence sharing regarding the Islamic State and its Sinai peninsula affiliate was underway. There are also indications that the Egyptian interior security forces are grilling ground crews and security personnel from the Sharm El Sheikh airport, looking for inconsistencies or signs that an 'inside man' may have planted explosives on the doomed jet.
Although a bomb planted on board is now the leading theory, with catastrophic mechanical failure seemingly ruled out by the Russians and Egyptians, British media led by The Daily Mail tabloid reported a curious incident that took place in late August 2015 -- one that could fuel accidental or intentional air to air shoot down theories:
A British plane carrying 189 passengers came 'within 1,000ft' of a rocket as it approached Sharm El Sheikh, it emerged last night.
The Thomson flight from London Stansted only took evasive action after the pilot spotted the missile speeding through the air.
The jet landed safely, and holidaymakers were not told they had been seconds from disaster.
The revelation comes amid claims British jihadists had spoken about an Islamic State 'mole' at Sharm el-Sheikh airport minutes after a Metrojet plane crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 on board...[snip]
Thomson initially declined to comment but in a comment late last night said: 'Thomson Airways can confirm that an event was reported by the crew of flight TOM 476 on 23rd August 2015.
'Upon landing into Sharm el-Sheikh, an initial assessment was conducted and the event was immediately reported to the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in line with established protocol.
'The DfT conducted a full investigation in conjunction with other UK Government experts.
'After reviewing the details of the case, the investigation concluded that there was no cause for concern and it was safe to continue our flying programme to Sharm el Sheikh.'
The Russia Analyst isn't sure what's going on with Boeing 737 licenses in Russia...
Egypt is concerned over the recent outflow of Russian and British tourists – about 70 percent of its total visitors. If they don’t return, it would seriously harm Egypt’s economy, as the tourist industry generates more than 11 percent of the country’s GDP.
The forecast comes from the Adviser to the Minister of Tourism, Mohamed Yousef, who said that losing those tourists would be “a severe blow” to the industry.
“Russian tourists are ranked first with 3 million tourists per year. British – 1 million,” Yousef said according to Al Ahram newspaper. “Their leaving is a severe blow for the industry. The loss will be 70 percent of the tourist influx.”
Such a scenario could see Egypt’s GDP plummet, as tourism makes up 11.3 percent of GDP, while also providing for about 14 percent in the country’s revenue in foreign currencies, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
The most up-to-date information indicates the October 31 tragedy was the result of a terrorist act on board the Airbus A321. If that supposition is confirmed, and considering the reaction by the Russian authorities, one might say that Qatar finally got what it wanted—a war.
Incidentally, Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Atyya publicly threatened Russia with “World War Three”. We can’t speak for Russia, but as far as Qatari clans are concerned, the war is on.
Sinai is the zone of responsibility of pro-Qatari formations. There has existed an unwritten agreement between Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia on not allowing terror acts in Egyptian resorts. What is more, the agreement provided for timely exchange of information concerning any threats to the resorts.
If it is established that the A321 was destroyed by a pro-Qatari group, it will cause Egypt’s anger and Riyadh’s displeasure. There are all reasons to believe that, as a minimum, a few members of Qatari elite would have to pay for this with their lives.
But will the story end with dispatching a few highly placed criminals to heaven? There are reasons to believe that the Russian leadership is inclined to view the A321 incident as a direct declaration of war, similar to the 9/11 attacks on the United States. All terror organizations of a certain size are backed by this or that country or financial interest.
Out of all the articles that have appeared in Russian government-sponsored media since the tragedy, the one that has angered Western MSM and government spokesmen alike has been by British writer Finnian Cunningham. In the conclusion of the piece, Cunningham dropped a strong hint that not only did MI6 have intel it did not share with the Russians about an impending terror attack, but a faction within the British security establishment may've had a hand in the disaster. Whether this is purely Mr. Cunningham's personal opinion and in no way reflects the views of Sputnik International as the customary disclaimer attached to Pepe Escobar's op-eds at RT say, we cannot say. Cunningham himself doesn't fit the profile of a basement dwelling 'conspiracy theorist' -- before he went into newspaper journalism, he received a Master's degree in agricultural chemistry from Cambridge. Suffice to say Cunningham's column has been denounced as another example of outrageous Kremlin lies and shameless propaganda, whereas Western 'ex' spooks and accusing Putin of personally staging the Russian apartment bombings of 1999 or the FSB of recruiting Ayman Al-Zawahiri as an asset (what we call 'al-KGB-aeda' theories) are fine and dandy.
For our part, the Russia Analyst thinks Moscow's information operations aim to 'rattle the cage' of MI6 and Langley alike to see if anyone inside those agencies starts leaking some sort of additional CYA about intel sharing on airliner threats prior to the terrorist bombing to the usual New York Times/Washington Post outlets. The Sputnik report tweeted above regarding jihadists possibly connected to the MetroJet downing being caught on GCHQ/NSA or Israeli SIGINT speaking with British accents could certainly prove embarrassing to London, if it emerges that some of the ISIS militants came out of the same MI5 monitored Finsbury Park-type mosque circles as the infamous head chopping video star 'Jihadi John' (Mohammed Emwazi), who depending on your point of view, either decided ISIS was not for him and entered the witness protection program or was an MI6 provocateur/asset and star of faked snuff films all along.
Mark Dice digs into the 'British rapper turned into sudden jihadi beheader' stories peddled by the mainstream media
The precedent of Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley, now serving 35 years for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in India and his recruitment by British intelligence does not inspire confidence that at the very least, many MI6 assets go 'off the reservation' or are committing acts of terror to win the confidence of the terrorist organizations they're 'infiltrating', like the FBI's most notorious Mob killer informant James 'Whitey' Bulger who just lived too long to got away with it all.
At worst these individuals may, like the proverbial room temperature IQ or mentally ill mark for the FBI, get duped or psychologically pressured into commiting the very terrorism their US/UK governmet handlers claim to be fighting. Southfront does not pull a Finnian Cunningham, but does like Mr. Cunningham raise its eyebrow at the sudden urgency behind London's attempts to mend fences with an angry and suspicious Moscow on the subject of ISIS in Egypt:
One should also turn one’s attention to Great Britain’s position. Almost immediately following the attack, London announced that the British secret services have intercepted telephone conversations among terrorists connected to the Islamic State. This information was being concealed from Russia. That’s why the Russian MFA sharply reminded the British that such information ought to be shared. “We are shocked at the fact that the British government could have some information which might shed light on what happened in the skies over Egypt,” said Russian MFA representative Mariya Zakharova.
We cannot make the claim that MI-5 and MI-6, and therefore also the CIA, had information concerning the terrorist attack prior to the event. But circumstantial evidence suggests there exists a likelihood this was the case. Granted, our information indicates that following a recent lengthy telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and David Cameron, the level of exchange of information between London and Moscow has increased.
In any event, the terrorist attack confirmed the necessity of renewing cooperation between West and Russia, at least on the level of special services.
Nation of Islam meets #AlCIAeda: nice, American English accented propaganda for #TeamJihad in Syria. If this wasn't shot in some back lot like the southern California culvert where Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton hid out from Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, who paid for this guy's plane ticket to Instanbul or Beirut? Who sees to it his rebel convoy won't get ID'd with its American or British accented crew talking into their Langley provided satphones and get extra special attention courtesy of Russia's Su-34s in Latakia?
Iron Man 3 deleted scene -- Ben Kingsley plays the dreaded Bin Laden like terrorist 'The Mandarin' w/many accents