Thursday, May 19, 2016

Destruction of EgyptAir flight 804 likely due to terrorism

File photo of an EgyptAir plane. Reuters. 

An EgyptAir flight has crashed over the Mediterranean on a flight between Paris France and Cairo Egypt. Reuters. The Airbus A320 had 66 passengers and crew on board. Egyptian, Greek and international authorities are conducting a search for debris. The Greek defense minister claims that the plan was flying at 37,000 feet when it suddenly turned to the left and then did a 360 degree spin to the right, plunging to 15,000 feet before disappearing from radar. The ground controllers lost contact before the plane started to descend. No distress signal was reported. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Live updates:

My Comment:
The live feeds have been saying that it is much more likely that this is a terrorist attack then a mechanical failure. Those sources include Egyptian, French and Russian government sources. Though a mechanical failure has not been ruled out, it seems rather unlikely at this point. This was a relatively new plane and it had just undergone a safety inspection, which it passed. It is definitely still a possibility but it seems less and less likely as time goes on. 

My guess is that this is indeed a terrorist attack. Much like the Russian airliner that was brought down by ISIS in Egypt, it is very possible that they were able to strike again. It does not take a large amount of explosives to take down a plane so it is very possible that someone was able to slip a bomb onto the plane. That would be the most likely scenario.

Another possibility is that this was an attempted hijacking that went wrong. This seems unlikely. For one, there was no distress signal received or reported by anyone, as of this writing. It is also very difficult to hijack a plane after 9/11. There is also no evidence that any of the passengers were linked to any group that wanted to conduct a hijacking. It is possible but I personally think that it is extremely unlikely.

Finally, this could have been another case of a pilot deciding to kill himself along with his passengers and crew. That has happened before, with the most recent being the Germanwings flight that crashed last year. This is also unlikely just because the way the plane crashed. It is very unlikely that the plane would spin around like it did if it was deliberate. 

My guess is that it played out like this. A small bomb, planted at an airport, either Charles De Gaulle airport in France or one of the airports in North Africa the plane had visited recently, exploded. That caused the plane to spin out. The pilots may have been able to gain control or they died/passed out due to the blast. The plane wasn't able to recover and it either broke up in the air due to the explosion once it dropped off the radar or crashed into the ocean.

So if it was a terrorist attack, who was responsible? The obvious suspect is ISIS. ISIS has done this kind of thing before. After all they brought down a Russian jetliner out of Egypt last year. That attack even occurred in Egypt, and one of the airports that the plane was in during the 24 hours before the attack was Cairo. They also have a presence in Tunisia which the plane also visited. It could even be terrorist based in Paris, though the higher security there would make that seem unlikely. 

ISIS isn't the only suspect though. AQAP, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a possibility as well. They have a long history of terrorist attacks and have tried to attack jetliners as well. Most of those attacks have failed, but AQAP has a presence in Paris, where they conducted the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Given how much al-Qaeda has faded in comparison to ISIS, this attack could be an attempt to regain the spotlight.

What are the impacts of this attack? Well for one Egypt is going to take yet another hit in terms of tourism. Egypt is very dependent on tourism for its income and their industry has already been hurt badly. Not only is the country unstable, there is also the long string of terrorist attacks that have occurred there. This attack is just the last in a long line of attacks. My guess is this news will make even more people reconsider traveling to Egypt. 

The attack also raises concerns about the threat against airlines. If this bomb is proven to have been planted in Paris, in a major international airport with supposedly good security it means that the terrorists can slip bombs in almost anywhere. If it was planted in Africa, it just further shows how vulnerable those airports are to infiltration. Either result would be shocking after the destruction of the Russian jet last year. 

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