Russian officials have halted all flights to Egypt indefinitely following last weekend’s downing of a Russian Metrojet airliner, which killed all 224 people abroad. There is increasing evidence, according to those familiar with the situation, that ISIS was indeed responsible for the incident.
The latest reports on the incident include comments from British intelligence agencies suggesting that the bomb that caused the crash was planted on board ahead of takeoff, likely by an employee at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport. A “heat flash” was detected, likely an explosion, and the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.
Russian and Egyptian officials were initially very suspicious of the ISIS claim of responsibility, and ISIS has offered virtually no details on the attack, which led many to initially conclude they were just claiming credit for an accident. Intelligence has since suggested that was not the case, however, and US and British intelligence have since intercepted internal ISIS communications suggesting it was a plot.
Egypt, whose economy heavily depends on tourism, has loudly denied ISIS involvement in the crash, and has railed against nations that have suspended flights to Sinai. Junta leader Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has rejected the need for improved security at Sharm el-Sheikh, insisting the airport is perfectly safe.