FPI Resources: The Metrojet Crash and Terrorism in Egypt

November 12, 2015

The destruction of Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai Peninsula killed all 224 people travelling to Moscow from the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Within days of the crash, Western officials cited growing evidence of a terrorist bomb plot, including monitoring of communications of ISIS-affiliated militants, a satellite detection of an explosion, sounds of an explosion from the plane’s cockpit recording, and indications of potential assistance by someone at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The governments of Egypt and Russia are leading the investigation into the crash, but as the Washington Post has observed, there is little reason to trust the work of two regimes that are more concerned with defending themselves than protecting their citizens.
FPI believes that the following resources will be beneficial for lawmakers and staff as they consider how the United States should view the ongoing developments in the Sinai and the potential that the Metrojet crash was caused by terrorism.

Maram Mazen, “In Egypt, Angry Talk of Western Conspiracy Over Plane Crash,” Associated Press, November 10, 2015

“Egyptian media have reacted with fury as Britain and the United States increasingly point to a bomb as the cause of the Oct. 31 Russian plane crash in Sinai, with many outlets hammering home the same message: Egypt is facing a Western conspiracy that seeks to scare off tourists and destroy the country’s economy.”
Neil MacFarquhar, Confirmation of Attack on Russian Jet May Strengthen Putin’s Resolve in Syria, The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2015

“Although President Vladimir V. Putin and his aides at first indignantly dismissed suspicions of a terrorist act, the Kremlin has since then clearly come to grips with the idea that a bomb was probably involved in the crash: Late Friday it suspended all travel by Russians to Egypt, and initiated an emergency airlift that by Sunday had repatriated 11,000 Russians, by government count.”
Omar Ashour, Sinai’s Stubborn Insurgency, Foreign Affairs, Nov. 8, 2015

“Cairo’s counterinsurgency policy in Sinai was built on three pillars: repression, intelligence, and propaganda. Intensive, reactive, and mostly indiscriminate repression was the hallmark of the policy in the north. The goal was to terrorize and hence subdue a population perceived as potentially rebellious.”
Editorial, A Terror Warning in Sinai, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6, 2015

“[T]the larger danger is ISIS’s growing ability to win the allegiance of geographically distant groups or individuals beyond Syria or Iraq. It is doing so partly through its sophisticated propaganda channels, but mainly by the power of its example. As long as ISIS is in the fight and undefeated by the U.S. or other ‘apostate regimes, it becomes a natural pole of radical attraction—the proverbial ‘strong horse’ in the race for ideological sympathy among young Muslims around the world.”
Daniel L. Byman, What it means if ISIS did bomb the Russian airliner, Brookings, Nov. 5, 2015

“A new civil-airliner attack would mean the battlefield is expanding. It would mean that rather than striking Russian bases and personnel in Syria, the Islamic State is hitting them wherever they might be found – in this case leaving an Egyptian tourist resort. Here the Islamic State’s affiliates become important, for they greatly expand the range of where ISIS could conceivably launch an attack.”
Nancy A. Youssef & Shane Harris, ISIS’s ‘Most Potent’ Crew Is Now in Sinai – and Says It Bombed Russia’s Jet, The Daily Beast, Nov. 5, 2015

“The branch, which calls itself the Islamic State of the Sinai, or Wilayat al Sinai, has twice claimed responsibility for taking down the Russian airliner, most recently on Wednesday. But it hasn’t offered any of ISIS’ trademark evidence, such as martyr statements or videos of the plane crashing. Rather, the group said essentially: ‘Trust us, we did it.’  And that only added to the mystery about how the plane came down.”
Tom Malinowski, Testimony on Human Rights Conditions in Egypt, Lantos Human Rights Commission, November 3, 2015

“We appreciate that Egypt faces real and urgent security threats. We have an interest in helping Egypt counter those threats, and we are doing so. But we will continue to make clear that the best way to win, in Egypt and in every country in the region threatened by terrorism and extremism, is to build institutions legitimate and inclusive enough to unite everyone, conservative or liberal, secularist or Islamist, who pursues their goals peacefully.”

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