Was it an accident, or an act of terrorism? That is the question about Kogalymavia/Metrojet flight #7K9268, which crashed with all souls aboard lost in Egypt's Sinai desert on Halloween Saturday. What we do know is that the timing is highly suspicious, coming as it did during intense negotiations between the U.S., its Sunni Persian Gulf allies, and the Russians and Iranians over the fate of Syria. Whether the Satanic holiday of Halloween also played a factor in what happened has been the subject of alternative media speculation. The Islamic State instantly took credit for bringing down the plane with a missile, going so far as to release a grainy (and almost certainly fake) video to 'prove' their sick 'victory' over 224 men, women and children (17 kids were on board, including infants). Several Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and fascist trolls, some employees like Pavlo Hrishyn of U.S. government propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe/Liberty, also rejoiced at the downed jet -- not realizing or caring that at least three of their countrymen were on board.
In Kiev, despite months of propaganda calling Russia an aggressor and the root of all evil Ukrainians placed flowers outside the fence of the Russian Embassy. An outpouring of well-wishes and grief from around the world has also proven that when it comes to ordinary people dying on vacation, Cold War 2.0 takes a back seat to our common humanity.
ISIS Boasting of a Shoot down: A Flat Out Lie or Cover for the Actual (State Sponsored?) Terrorist Bomb that Brought Down the Plane?
The Egyptian and Russian authorities have dismissed the ISIS boasts about a shoot down as false. As mainstream media has accurately reported, there's no evidence that the super terrorist organization possesses surface to air missiles capable of bringing down an airliner at ('s cruising altitude of over 31,000 feet, nearly three times the range of man-portable SAMs (MANPADs) of the type Syria jihadists have received courtesy of their sponsors in Qatar. Gordon Duff, the U.S. Vietnam veteran who runs the website Veterans Today known for carrying Iranian and his own self-produced disinfo, was speculating a week ago from Fars News Agency reports that the Syrian jihadis were trying to obtain BUK and other higher altitude SAM launchers from Ukraine. However, there's no evidence that such an arms transfer has taken place. We can be fairly confident given the extent Russian security services monitor Odessa and other Black Sea ports that such a shipment would be intercepted at sea or in mid-air if flown by a Ukrainian cargo plane. There's also no electronic or radar evidence according to Egyptian and Russian authorities that a SAM of any kind, including Western or Israeli manufacture, was fired.
Egypt's Investigation Appears to be on the Up and Up, and is Working Closely with the Russians
The 'demilitarized' by Israel-Egypt peace treaty Sinai peninsula is not exactly known for being an unmonitored zone, considering the amount of terrorist activities and jihadist smuggling that has been ongoing for years. The Egyptians and Russians may have agreed on a common 'story' within minutes of the tragedy, but there is little reason to think the Sisi government would bother lying to Moscow about what Egypt's military recorded on radar or in signals monitoring shortly before the disaster, knowing how many Russian intel (GRU?) assets work in the Egyptian military.
The Egyptians have been moving step by step into the 'Eurasian axis' camp of Russia and China under Gen. Sisi's post-coup government, despite Cairo still receiving billions in foreign aid from the Russians' 'frenemies' in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian media under Sisi has endorsed Russia's air campaign against ISIS, Al-Nusra and other jihadist groups opposed to Assad in Syria, and has accused Obama and the CIA of not only overthrowing Mubarak, but sponsoring the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. The speed at which Egyptian rescuers arrived at the crash site and professionalism of how they set about securing the evidence is difficult to question at this point.
By all measures the Egyptians appear to be operating a competent, transparent investigation which recovered the black (actually bright orange) boxes within hours and these critical devices have already been sent to Moscow. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations convened sent at least three jets full of recovery/forensics experts and equipment to Cairo within hours of the disaster. Contrast the Egyptians' transparency and rapid response Russian to the Ukrainians constantly making excuses that the evil separatist rebels were not permitting Kiev and Western investigators to reach the MH17 crash site for days, while the UAF shelled the area in July 2014.
Therefore if we rule out Ukrainian/Western/Israeli SAMs or some exotic EMP/energy weaponry bringing down the plane, then the only ways it could have been taken out would involve a bomb or an act of sabotage prior to take off from the high-security Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. Considering the similarities to Pan Am Flight 103 which broke up over Lockerbie, Scotland from a bomb in 1988, a bomb is entirely plausible.
Nonetheless, Russian media is strongly hinting at mechanical failure as the cause, pointing to the experienced flight crew and their complaints about maintenance issues with the aircraft logged in the days leading up to the tragedy. Bloomberg's story, as recounted by Zerohedge, also appears to support the catastrophic (as in tail ripping off in flight) mechanical failure theory:
In its final seconds Saturday, the Metrojet plane was bucking wildly, abruptly climbing and descending before communication was lost, according to FlightRadar24.com, which tracks flight routes. At times it dropped as fast as 6,000 feet per minute, only to reverse and climb even faster, repeating that pattern several times. At other times, it slowed dangerously. About 24 seconds before losing contact, it dropped to 71 miles per hour from 470 miles, according to the data. Jetliners such as the Airbus 321 can’t stay aloft at such a speed.
If the FlightRadar24 data are correct, “it probably rules out sabotage,” said Paul Hayes, director of air safety and insurance at Ascend Worldwide. “It’s probably some sort of control problem.”
RT is no exception to the general trend, accurately translating the reports in Russian language media for a Western audience indicating the flight crew's concerns about the aging charter jet liner's maintenance problems:
Siberian operator Kogalymavia, also known as Metrojet, has said that a technical malfunction, even one as serious as an engine fire, could not have led to such a rapid disintegration, and Egyptian authorities say the aircraft passed the pre-flight check without incidents.
The Airbus itself was 18 years old – not a particularly grand age by aircraft standards – and had been leased from Aercap, the world’s biggest plane leasing company. It had only suffered one minor incident in 2001.
Nonetheless, the wife of one of the co-pilots, told Russian state television that her husband Sergey Trukhachev complained that “the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired." The crew itself was very experienced, with pilot Valeriy Nemtsov clocking up over 12,000 hours of flight time prior to the accident.
Metrojet have been told to temporarily ground their planes, while Russian authorities have begun a safety audit of the small company, which is operating five other jets.
Bomb or Catastrophic Mechanical (Tail) Failure?
As with Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, there has been a slew of somewhat confusing and perhaps contradictory information put out in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. During the first few minutes of reports that the aircraft was missing around 4:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday we observed tweets stating that the plane had contacted Turkish air traffic control and was safe. Within minutes those tweets were deleted or superseded by reports that the plane had crashed. Around the same time Egyptian sources said the pilot had issued a request for an emergency landing at Cairo. But later on the Egyptian government said that no SOS/distress call was received.
The Airbus A321-200 took off from the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh at 5:51am local time (3:51 UTC), in the direction of St.Petersburg. Some 22 minutes later, air control, according to local officials, lost contact with the jet, which by then had climbed to 9,450 meters (31,000 feet ).
Flight tracking websites then reported a rapid, almost vertical, descent. The manufacturer Airbus says the plane hit the ground about three minutes later, killing every single person on-board. There was no distress call.
Alternative media investigations into the MH17 case and Dutch Safety Board's denial of Russian Defense Ministry claims that Ukrainian traffic controllers directed the flight to change course showed that it's possible for flight tracking websites (or the GPS signals on which they rely) to be manipulated. But in this case we don't have any evidence that the plane's course and airspeed data was altered on FlightRadar24. The plane appears to have simply dropped like a rock, adding to suspicions that it would've taken more than a bad fuel mix, avionics failure or even the tail cracking open to send the plane plummeting to earth at over 6,000 feet a minute.
The head of Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia, Aleksandr Neradko, has said that “all signs testify to the fact that the destruction of the structure of the airplane took place in the air and at a great altitude.” The principal evidence is that the remains of the plane and the bodies have been scattered over an area measuring about 8 km by 4 km. An Egyptian military source told the media that the plane cracked open into two main segments, one of which collided with a rock on impact.
The tail damage/structural failure theory is being promoted by The Daily Beast, a neocon website known for pushing false talking points on the Ukraine and Syria conflicts. But in this case a broken clock can be right twice a day applies.
The Airbus A321 was 18 years old, and had made 21,000 flights, a relatively low number when compared with the much higher daily frequency of flights made on budget airlines. With a modern airplane like this and regular maintenance its age is not in itself a cause for concern.
What does, however, jump out from this particular airplane’s record is anaccident that it suffered on November 16, 2001, while landing at Cairo (while owned and operated by Middle East Airlines). As it touched down the nose was pointing at too high an angle and the tail hit the tarmac—heavily enough to cause substantial damage.
Tail strikes like this are not uncommon. The airplane was repaired and would have been rigorously inspected then and during subsequent maintenance checks. (Although the airplane was owned by a Russian company, Kogalymavia, operating as Metrojet, it was registered in Ireland and the Irish authorities were responsible for its certification checks.) Nonetheless investigators who will soon have access to the Airbus’s flight data recorder will take a hard look at what is called the rear pressure bulkhead, a critical seal in the cabin’s pressurization system.
The notion that an accident fourteen years ago could doom an Airbus 321 with an otherwise safe operating record and an experienced flight crew is disconcerting. But even worse is the thought that the Russian jet was targeted by what would have to be a fairly sophisticated terror operation that could infiltrate the ground crews at Sharm El Sheikh airport. The latter thought has prompted many alternative media figures, including the somewhat ranting figure of Jim Stone, to insist that only a missile or bomb could've brought down the jet and claims to the contrary are efforts by the Egyptians to save their precious tourist trade and the Russians to avoid a big war with the terrorists' presumed Western/Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi/Qatari) sponsors.
While it's understandable after the disappearance of MH370 and the Ukrainian false flag shoot down of MH17 to be suspicious, we think it's too early to say what really happened to #7K9268. In our view, even if Vladimir Putin wanted to keep all details the Russian investigators uncover in the next few days from the flight recorders or analysis of the fuselage for explosives residue secret, he would not be able to do so. Things have gone too far in the Mideast, where the two sides are digging in for bloody winter campaigns in Syria and Yemen, to have the Kremlin to successfully keep the truth from coming out for the sake of 'keeping the peace' in the event #7K9268 was brought down by Russia's enemies. Too many Emergency Situations Ministry who are not sworn to silence like the FSB/SVR/GRU men, would talk to the press, whether it's Kommersant or Komsolmolskaya Pravda. Eventually word that explosive traces were detected in passengers luggage and bodies would come out.
As we wrote in a previous piece, Russia is already at war, and is more than ready for a bigger one. If anyone in Ankara, Riyadh, Doha or elsewhere was behind this, then Allah help them because nobody else will when they find out in the last seconds of their lives that GRU's spetsnaz (including Moscow's Muslim Chechen operatives infiltrating their mosques) can hunt terrorists down to the end of the Earth.
Here is our tribute, Vladimir Vysotsky's "Song About Earth", to the passengers and crew of #7K9268. As the Russians say, царство Небесное (may God grant the Kingdom of Heaven) to them.
Is the earth, as they say, burnt and dried? Will a seed, as they say, never sprout? Has the earth, as they say, really died? No! It’s taken a lengthy time-out! Mother Earth will forever give birth, Its maternity isn’t a fiction! Don’t believe that they burnt down the earth, No! It’s blackened from grief and affliction. Trenches, running like scars back and forth... Bleeding guts black shell-craters expose... They are open nerves of the earth, Which unearthly unhappiness knows. It will stand wars and grief - any thing! It’s not crippled, though booted and looted... Don’t believe that the earth doesn’t sing, That it’s quieted down, diluted! No, it’s singing as loud as it can From a trench, from a wound, from a hole! Since the earth is the soul of Man, Boots cannot trample down the soul!