In the latest developments, British investigators have said they believe an explosive device planted in the luggage hold, either inside or on top of luggage, caused the Russian plane to crash in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Independent reported on Friday.
Airbus A321, carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members, came down in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday.
However, Russian and Egyptian officials say any talk about a bomb is premature, and aviation authorities are working on all possible theories as to why the Airbus A321-200 crashed Saturday in Egypt’s chaotic Sinai Peninsula, 23 minutes after takeoff.
While the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks that struck tourists in Tunisia and Shiite mosques in oil-rich Sunni Gulf countries — claims that have not been proven — it has so far refrained from spectacular al-Qaida-style attacks on airliners. It has focused instead on seizing and expanding territory it already holds in Syria and Iraq, and establishing branches in other countries like Egypt and Libya.
And while some attacks in the West may have been inspired by the group, there has been no clear evidence that any of them was planned or directed by the group itself.
“The Sinai attack would be a first, and would signal that the Islamic State has become both capable of — and interested in — joining the dreadful ranks of global terrorism,” concluded an analysis by the Soufan Group, a private geopolitical risk assessment company.
Given the Islamic State militants’ success in creating mayhem in the region through its brutal tactics and ferocious fanaticism, such a metamorphosis would be a major challenge for security services around the world.
IS has claimed responsibility for bringing the Russian plane down in written statements, as well as video and audio messages posted on the Internet this week. It said the attack was retaliation for Russia’s air campaign against IS — and other groups — in Syria, where Moscow wants to preserve the rule of President Bashar Assad. The group warned Putin that they would also target him “at home.”
But IS has not offered any details to back its claim. While releasing specifics would add credibility, the group may be withholding either because its claim is false, or because doing so would undermine plans for similar attacks in the future — or because the aura of mystery might deepen its mystique among die-hard followers.