The crash of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday may be the result of an on-board bomb, based on new evidence, and if so the downing of Kogalymavia — also known as Metrojet — Flight 9268 could be seen as “the chickens coming home to roost” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to one aviation expert, with Putin now widely seen as responsible for the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last year.
“If we have entered an era in which civilian airliners have become fair game, no one is more responsible than he,” wrote aviation journalist Jeff Wise in an article for New York Magazine published Tuesday.
Watch an ABC News report on the investigation into the cause of the Russian plane crash in the video at the top of this page, above.
According to a final report issued in October by the Dutch Safety Board, which investigated the downing of Flight MH17 on July 17 of 2014 over eastern Ukraine, that Boeing 727-200 was shot from the sky by a Russian-made “Buk” missile, a complex ground-to-air missile system capable of shooting down aircraft flying as high as 80,000 feet.
Most Western intelligence agencies, including those in the United States, believe that such a missile was almost certain to have been fired by Russian special forces in the pro-Russian area of eastern Ukraine, or by anti-government rebels there backed and trained by Russia.
The shootdown of Malaysia Airlines MH17 killed all 298 people on board the flight, which originated in Amsterdam.
The Russian plane, an Airbus A321-231, took off from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport in the Egyptian Sinai, bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, with 224 people on board, including the seven crew members. Most of the passengers were Russian tourists vacationing at the Red Sea. Everyone aboard was killed in the sudden crash, which happened just 23 minutes after the plane took off.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but according to sources in U.S. intelligence, American satellite images show a “heat flash” at the same time and place as the Russian plane crash.
In addition, investigators reportedly found mysterious “elements” amidst the devastation of the Russian plane wreckage on the ground in Sinai — “elements” that they could not identify as being part of the Airbus itself.
Investigators quickly recovered the “black box” voice and flight data recorders from the downed flight, and according to the Russian news agency Interfax, a source who had read transcripts of the voice recordings said that they contained “sounds uncharacteristic of routine flight.”
“Judging by the recording, a situation on board developed suddenly and unexpectedly for the crew, and as a result the pilots did not manage to send a distress signal,” the Interfax source said, according to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.
On-board explosions can also be caused by mechanical and structural failures on an aircraft, as in the case of the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off of Long Island, New York.
But according to the New York Magazine article by Jeff Wise, “in the wake of TWA 800 industry-wide design changes were made to fix the problem, and no similar accidents have occurred in the two decades since.”
The terror group ISIS is known to be active in regions of Sinai, and the infamously violent organization initially claimed to have “downed” the plane. But ISIS is not known to possess missiles such as the Buk, or its American equivalent, the Patriot, capable of shooting down a plane at 32,000 feet, which was the altitude of the Russian Metrojet Airbus.
Is it possible that ISIS could have somehow snuck a bomb on board the Russian plane? While Egyptian officials have trashed the possibility of ISIS involvement, United States intelligence officials say that they have not yet ruled out the possibility that ISIS was somehow behind the horrific crash.
[Featured Photo By Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]