President Barack Obama reiterated information coming from unnamed intelligence officials that the Russian passenger plane, the Metrojet Flight 9268, was downed by a bomb aboard the flight. This possibility raised fears of terrorist attacks liken to the September 11 tragedy.
Morning News USA previously reported that intelligence officials who have spoken on condition of anonymity found that an ISIS-planted bomb may have caused the plane to split in mid-air. On Thursday, Mr. Obama reiterated this likelihood. “I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board. And we are taking that very seriously,” the president told Dave Ross of KIRO radio.
Mr. Obama recognized that at this point nothing is final yet and investigations are still ongoing. But all preliminary investigations is leaning towards confirmation that bomb exploded aboard the Russian plane. “We know that the procedures we have here in the United States are different than some of the procedures that exist for inbound and outbound flights there. We are going to spend a lot of time making sure our own investigators and our own intelligence community figures out exactly what’s going on before we make any definitive pronouncements. But it is certainly possible that there was a bomb on board,” he said during the interview.
Morning News USA also reported that holidaymakers are warned against flying Sinai and Egypt, and that employees at U.S. Embassy in Cairo are instructed not to travel in the region. Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle east peace negotiator, told CNN that if indeed ISIS or an affiliated group downed Metrojet, the groups’ next target could be U.S. passenger planes. “It is a long war and you we have just seen maybe a very significant turn and escalation in that war,” Miller said.
Robert Pape of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago told CNN the possibility that ISIS bomb the Russian plane is a major game-changer. He said that many Obama critics have been calling for increasing U.S. military forces on Syrian grounds. “Well, the Russians finally did that and what we have seen is, the more military intervention occurred, the more ISIS makes it a priority to kill civilians from those states,” Pape further explained.
In Russia meanwhile, the government refused to comment on the matter. President Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that while all causes that could explain the crash are being considered, there are still no valid grounds to declare one version as more or less reliable. “Any other such conjectures have the nature of unverified information or speculations. If there are some more serious data, then we hope that these data, no matter who possesses them, will be placed at the disposal of investigators,” Peskov said as quoted by TASS.