Egypt says intelligence of downed Russian jet not shared

Egypt accuses certain countries of failing to share intelligence as French aviation officials claim that Russian plane crashed due to bomb planted onboard after they investigated jet’s black box

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The remains of a Russian airliner are inspected by military investigators at the crash site at the al-Hasanah area in El Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Saturday accused certain unmentioned countries of failing to share intelligence relating to the crash of the Russian jet.

Egyptian authorities should have been told about "the available technical information instead of releasing it to the media in a generalised way", said Shoukry.

French aviation officials claimed on Saturday that the Russian plane, which crashed into the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt last week leading to the death of all 224 people on board, was not due to some technical failures.

The black box retrieved from the Metrojet Airbus A321 contained a "violent, sudden" blast causing the crash, other French officials added.

"Everything was normal during the flight, absolutely normal, and suddenly there was nothing," they said.

UK officials stated that the intercepted militant calls signify a bomb was placed in the hold prior to take-off.

The UK’s most advanced listening post is located in the Troodos mountain range in Cyprus, which provides the British authorities with the ability to hear ranges from all across the Middle East region.

In addition, US officials added on Friday that the intercepted communication between the militants in Sinai and in Syria was a conversation of how they brought the jet down.

"They were clearly celebrating," said the official.

Both UK and US officials have already stated their view that the bomb downed the Russian jet.

DAESH's affiliate in Egypt, Wilayet Sinai (Sinai Province), claimed it brought down the airliner with an air missile. Such a theory has been dismissed by all parties, however the possibility of the terrorist group being behind the attack is still not off the table.

Both the flight data and voice recorders broke down as it descended from the sky into the Sinai Peninsula last Saturday, just 24 minutes after the plane took off from the Sharm el Sheikh resort en route to Saint Petersburg.

Initially, both Egypt and Russia denied claims that DAESH affiliated militants brought down the plane, but developing evidence has pushed several countries to alert against travel to Sharm el Sheikh, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

‘Strengthen security measures’

The US announced that it will be stepping up its security screening of items on US bound flights arriving from certain airports within the Middle East.

However, the Homeland Security statement did not specify which airports it was targeting.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to halt any future flights to the Red Sea resort until the cause of the crash is established, and requested for up to 50,000 Russian tourists currently spending their vacation in Egypt to be brought back home.

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agencies that the move does not imply that Russia believes the crash was due to an attack, and the investigation is still continuing.

Putin spoke to Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al Sisi through a telephone call, agreeing to continue "active co operation to strengthen security measures for Russian planes," according to a statement from the Kremlin.

As international concerns increase, Britain suspended flights on Wednesday to the Red Sea resort, which has been a jewel in Egypt's tourism crown, following Denmark, France and Belgium.

Some 1,400 travellers are scheduled to return to Britain on Friday via eight flights after restrictions were lifted but tourists were only permitted to bring along carry on bags, while check in bags will be flown back later, as a precaution taken by authorities.

Mario Guedes kisses his daughter Eowyn Gueddes after she arrived home from Sharm al-Sheikh at Luton Airport, north of London, Britain November 6, 2015.

The British Government said in a statement Friday morning that a total of 29 flights were scheduled to fly thousands of British citizens back to the UK from Egypt over the course of one day but due to sudden restrictions laid by the Egyptian government only eight flights will go ahead.

Airlines said they were forced to divert aircrafts from Sharm el Sheikh due to "a last minute change in Egyptian government restrictions," leaving thousands of UK tourists stranded at the airport in Egypt.

Egyptian Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal explained that only eight out of 29 flights could take off because the airport could not cope with all the luggage left behind.

Adding that the airport could not accommodate more than 120 tonnes of check in baggage left behind.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that authorities have increased security measures at airports to "give confidence to the British government, but that does not mean we concur with any scenario."

Russian tourists double pack their luggages that will be shipped separately for more security on board the airplane at the airport of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, November 7, 2015.

Ben Khosravi, 27, who was on an easyJet flight, spoke of the screening process at Sharm el-Sheikh, saying that “the security at Sharm was horrendous -- we had friends with lighters in their pockets, people were patting you down but not asking you to get anything out, bottles of water being passed through."

"It was quite worrying how easy you could get through -- you could pay people money to fast track it."

A British tourist told the Independent that he had been "offered the chance to pay £20 to skip queues and baggage checks" at Sharm el Sheikh airport during his visit earlier in the year.

Dale Parkyn, a 47 year old from Yorkshire in the UK, said he and his wife had been approached by a man dressed in military uniform and were offered a chance to skip security.

"What we did is we discussed it and he then produced a £20 note and said, 'Have you one of these' and you can avoid the queue.”

A British government spokesperson told the Independent that there was an "assessment of the security arrangements in place at the airport and to identify whether any further action is required."

"Egypt is co operating to reassure these countries that the (security) measures adopted in Egyptian airports conform to international standards," Egypt’s Foreign Minister said.

Shoukry also criticised a lack of cooperation accusing some countries of "concentrating on their self-interests."


TRTWorld and agencies