Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stated in a speech on Wednesday that terrorism was cause of the downing of the Russian passenger plane that crashed and killed 224 over the Sinai last October.
This is the first time the Egyptian president publicly suggested this was an act of terrorism without definitively stating that terrorists were behind the crash:
‘”[h]as the confrontation and terrorism ended? No, not yet. Whoever downed that plane, what did he want?” el-Sisi said at a government conference. “Just to hit tourism? No. To hit relations. To hit relations with Russia, hit relations with Italy.“
For months now, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has resisted the notion that this was an act of terrorism despite ISIS claiming responsibility and the fact the Russian investigators found evidence of a bomb aboard the fated passenger plane.
The terrorist group claiming responsibility for the downed Russian passenger plane is the ISIS branch, Wilayat Sina (or Wilayat Sinai), who’s leader has been sought by Egyptian authorities for acts of violence and terrorism against the Egyptian state and Israel. Egyptian investigators have yet to publish an official report on the crash or even note that terrorism might have been or was a factor in the Russian plane’s downing.
While Russia initially dismissed the crash as an act of terrorism, they later reported in November 2015 that explosives had detonated on the plane and offered a $50 million reward leading to those responsible for the act. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane in retaliation for the Russian airstrikes in Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS.
For President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to draw the correlation that terrorists brought down the Russian plane means taking a direct hit to the tourism industry in Egypt as well as leaving the country wide-open for recompense to the families of those who perished in the crash. These could be reasons why Egyptian investigators have not published an official report regarding the cause of the crash. Egypt has hired a British firm to review security protocols at its airports, which includes security procedures on passengers, baggage, and security equipment.
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