Sunday, November 01, 2015

Terror against Russia? Mysteries within mysteries...

As you know, a Russian passenger jet carrying 224 people went down over Egypt on Saturday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for shooting down the airbus, and has posted a video of the massacre to YouTube. The comments on the Daily Mail story are interesting...
Biggest mistake Isis ever made was to kill these passengers ! I just wish the west pulls out ant leaves Putin and Russia to wipe out Isis and then al Qaeda
Just desserts for Putin and his evil allies. Let them too feel the pain those relatives felt when their loved ones were murdered over Ukraine on flight MH17..
Go on Mr Putin. You have a green light from the rest of the world. Finish them.
As you see, the knee-jerk hatred of all things Russian is still there, but muted. Most people seem to understand that Russia has carried the fight to ISIS in a way that we have not. This, despite the propaganda campaign designed to convince us that Russian forces were avoiding ISIS.

If the US finally decides to take serious actions against ISIS, will our jets also become targets?

The missile mystery. We must determine how ISIS could have gotten hold of the necessary surface-to-air missile. One possible answer may be found in this story from 2013.
The 26-page document in Arabic, recovered by The Associated Press in a building that had been occupied by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu, strongly suggests the group now possesses the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, known to the Pentagon as the Grail, according to terrorism specialists.

It confirms that the al-Qaeda cell is actively training its fighters to use these weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, which likely came from the arms depots of late Libya dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

"The existence of what apparently constitutes a 'Dummies Guide to MANPADS' is strong circumstantial evidence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb having the missiles," said Atlantic Council analyst Peter Pham, a former adviser to the United States' military command in Africa and an instructor to US Special Forces.

"Why else bother to write the guide if you don't have the weapons? ... If AQIM not only has the MANPADS, but also fighters who know how to use them effectively," he added, "then the impact is significant, not only on the current conflict, but on security throughout North and West Africa, and possibly beyond."

This is not the first al-Qaeda-linked group thought to have MANPADS - they were circulating in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a terror cell in Somalia recently claimed to have the SA-7 in a video.
If the missile that brought down that Russian airbus came from Al Qaeda -- and ultimately, from us -- the implications are dire.

Our military has been openly calling for an alliance with Al Qaeda in Syria, where the group is known as the Nusra Front. At the same time, our press has been pretending that ISIS and Al Qaeda are antagonists, even though the evidence is clear that they have worked together and share pretty much the same goals in Syria.

John McCain has called for America to equip the Syrian rebels (read: Al Qaeda) with Stinger missiles. Did that man give any thought as to how such weaponry might be used?

Keep on trucking. In this light, we should also recall the case of Serena Shim, an America reporter who was killed under suspicious circumstances on the Turkish/Syrian border in 2014. Turkish intelligence had accused her of being a spy after she reported that Turkey (our ally) was complicit in smuggling weapons to ISIS. She also said that ISIS fighters were allowed to pass through the border in large trucks bearing World Health Organization labels.

Seems to me that one could hide a lot in those trucks.

The question of range. Russia's transport minister has officially denied that terrorism played a role in the downing of the airliner, as has Egypt's Prime Minister. Of course, the Egyptians would want to protect their beleaguered tourism industry.

Moon of Alabama doubts that ISIS was responsible:
According to flight radar data the plane was flying at 30,000 feet when whatever happened occurred. IS in Sinai has anti-air weapons but those reach no higher than 10,000 feet.
I cannot see a missile in the video. But if we are talking about a bomb-in-the-luggage scenario, would an ISIS cameraman (shooting with an iPhone) know precisely where to stand to get a good shot of the explosion? The Daily Mail story at the other end of that link attracted this comment:
Can't hit an airliner at 30 thousand feet from the ground with a shoulder launched missile. No trail shown from a missile. Sure I have seen this video before many years ago. If it was IS then they have Alibaba working for them.
This is not the only time a commenter has suggested that we have been handed a bogus video. So far, though, no-one has offered proof that this footage shows the downing of some other jet.

There are long-range missiles (not shoulder-launched) which could have done the job. One is called -- I kid you not -- Barak.

Why did the story change?
We have varying reports as to whether the jet suffered a technical malfunction before going down. Let's look at the reportage in reverse chronological order, starting with the Daily Mail:
It comes as it has emerged that the burning Airbus A321 did not lodge an SOS call before it plummeted to he ground in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal said communications between the pilot and air traffic controllers were 'normal' ahead of the disaster.

'There was nothing abnormal... and the pilot didn't ask to change the plane's route,' he said, adding that the controllers recorded no distress calls.
The BBC:
Initial reports from Egypt said the pilot of the Kogalymavia airline had asked to make an emergency landing.

But minister Hossam Kamal said there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight.
The pilot reportedly requested clearance for an emergency landing at Cairo airport due to a technical malfunction.

A senior Egyptian air traffic control official said the pilot told him in their last communication that he had radio trouble.
The Guardian:
The Russian embassy in Cairo said it was told by Egyptian officials that the pilot had been trying to make an emergency landing at El-Arish.
Clearly, someone was spreading the story that the pilot was having technical problems and needed to make an emergency landing -- a claim that was later walked back. But what was the purpose of the original false report?

Perhaps it was not false at all. Perhaps lower-level air officials reported honestly that the pilot was having technical problems, until Kamal overruled all of them. All of the "nothing abnormal" stories trace back to Kamal, whose word is considered final; nobody has double-checked his claim with sources who have direct knowledge. 

And if that part of the story was subject to change, then how can we be 100 percent certain that the jet really was cruising at 30,000 feet?
Thanks for tracking this.


Thanks also for remembering Serena Shim. I didn't know the WHO detail.
No MANPAD can come close to reaching 30,000 feet, even if it was launched from directly under the flightpath.

I suppose it's not impossible that it was below 30,000 feet, but there's no evidence to think it was below that, the video seems to show a plane at about that height, the plane was in an area where they are told not to fly below 25,000 feet and it was at a point on the flightpath where that would be the expected altitude. The other evidence could be faked, but probably not.

That only leaves advanced, expensive, truck-mounted missiles like the BuK that supposedly did for MH17. I doubt the Sinai chaps could get one, although I wouldn't put it past the mothership in Syria. Assuming the video is legit, a bomb could be set off remotely to coincide with the point where they had the shot framed properly. Personally, probably technical fault.

As for the Russians, it's odd that the Israelis aren't getting any criticism after their previous bombing of Assad and now their bombing of Hezbollah, effectively acting as ISIS air support.
Stephen, this is indeed quite the conundrum, for all of the reasons you state. Right now, no explanation feels right. To me, the least objectionable hypothesis -- at this time -- is that ISIS creeps in the Sinai somehow got hold of long-range missiles. I will probably put that theory into rewrite when new info comes in.

There's an American base in that area which will no doubt give rise to conspiracy theories. I don't think that the missile came from there, but I guess one should mention that the base does, in fact, exist.
Saw an article a few minutes ago (sorry, don't have the link) that said this specific plane had an accident 14 years ago that MAY not have been fully fixed. Back then, plane's tail hit runway on landing, causing structural damage. Look at yesterday's photos and you will see tail section the only piece that landed semi-complete - as if it broke off at the bulkhead in flight. The bulkhead maintains air pressure. At 31K feet, if the bulkhead is breached, decompression is explosive.

Ah, found the link >
Bay of Pigs in the sand?

The bombs falling from Russian aircraft are not just shattering the lives of CIA officers and agents embedded within these proxy armies, but the fragile network of handshake relationships on which these covert operations are painstakingly built.
As a practical matter, a well placed, cell phone initiated, HE package, carefully placed by a baggage handler makes a lot more sense. Whether the photos are real or not has no bearing on the matter. Writing an app that sends a signal at a known altitude and latitude on a well traveled aviation route is simple enough. Sometimes the simplest answer is the likeliest. The real question has been around since Roman times, "Cui bono" to whose profit does action result?

The actual bomb is the easiest part. There are plenty of experienced airplane bombers in the area.'s as common as dirt. One US supplied TOW warhead would be more than enough, if correctly placed by a baggage handler.

Is it some combination of disgruntled Egyptian from the "Arab Spring". A man who saw an opportunity endear him/herself with the ISIL terrorists effecting regime change in Syria by making himself available to them?

Is it the US sending a dog whistle to it's allies in the "regime change coalition" that counters the vagueness of the Dutch report. After all, why would the US revenge itself if it wasn't sure THE RUSSIANS DID IT? The lack of condolences sent by Obama is rather odd given his hysterics after the shoot down of MH-17.

Or will the US press have Putin maniacally killing his own people to enhance his justification in resisting regime change in Syria...and no, the US media doesn't have to make sense, it just has to keep repeating the official story line until it's changed to another*.

*For those that don't remember Lockerbie bombing, it was originally blamed on Iran & a splinter group of the PLO. That stroy was the official line for something like three years, when, on the eve of the 1st Gulf War, the US required assistance from Iran and Bush [the 1st] declare that [I am paraphrasing] "we screwed up" and blame was placed on Libya.

ISIS rolled out of obscurity last summer with well-planned military operations and a fleet of Toyota trucks, and then stayed in the news cycles through their professionally designed atrocity videos, which were "discovered" and publicized by SITE. ISIS had a lot to offer the security state and its policies: provided a new "evil" to be eventually eradicated; put additional pressure on Assad and created trouble in Iraq, serving policies of turning area into new "statelets"; justified the return of US/NATO militaries directly into the region for long term presence (US military claimed it would take "30 years"to defeat ISIS); "homegrown jihadis" could be encouraged to join the fight, justifying new surveillance, internet monitoring, and other police state measures.

All the strong talk of "facing up to ISIS" virtually disappeared as soon as the Russians began their operation, replaced by waves of planted stories designed to disparage and undermine the Russian effort, but also to cover the open alliance with al-Qaeda (hidden alliance with ISIS) which had suddenly been exposed.
I will say this, the last time Russian backed ethnic Russians were making head in Donbass, an airliner was blown out of the sky.
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