Russia says groups behind Sinai plane bombing identified

The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, said on Thursday that Russian authorities have identified groups that were possibly involved in the bombing of the Metrojet passenger jet that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in late October, killing 224 Russian nationals.

According to Russia Today news website, Bortnikov explained that Russian security services have preliminary information on the groups likely behind the attack, although a “lot of work needs to be done” to get the full picture of who was involved.

Responding to a question from the press, Bortnikov said that no exact information is yet available on the specific persons who plotted the alleged bombing.

The Russian government previously announced that the Russian plane, which crashed minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Shiekh International Airport, was brought down by an explosive device planted on board. The assessment generally concurs with the conclusions of UK and US intelligence reports.

Russian officials explained that traces of explosives were discovered among personal belongings, baggage and parts of the aircraft found among the wreckage. The announcement was followed by a decision to suspend Russian flights to and from Egypt, following a decision by the UK to suspend flights to Sharm el-Shiekh International Airport.

Egypt has adamantly dismissed the possibility that the plane crash was the result of a terrorist plot. This month, the Civil Aviation Ministry revealed that investigations showed no evidence of any “illegitimate intervention or terrorist act” causing the plane crash. In a statement, the ministry said that the committee tasked with investigating the crash had finished its preliminary report, which was sent to all nations involved in the investigation, as well as to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Immediately after the plane crash, Province of Sinai, the Egyptian affiliate of Islamic State (IS), assumed responsibility for the downing of the plane. The militant group claimed that it had shot the aircraft down, which they said was carrying “over 220 Russian crusaders.”

The statement described the incident as a message to the Russians and their allies, indicating that they are not safe in Muslim lands, and that the “attack” on the plane was to avenge the death of “dozens of Syrians on a daily basis by [Russian] air missiles.”

A video, allegedly published by the Province of Sinai, shows the plane as it descends, but Mada Masr could not confirm its authenticity. In another statement, Province of Sinai added that it will choose the appropriate time to reveal how it brought the plane down, before the IS mouthpiece “Dabek” magazine published photos of the bomb allegedly planted on board.