A gaping hole that tore through a Somalia plane may have been caused by a laptop bomb. Investigators strongly suspect that the explosion, which forced the plane to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was likely caused by a concealed and disguised explosive device strategically placed aboard the passenger airplane by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group.
Aviation experts noted the angle of the blast and its location on the plane to conclude that the explosion was most likely caused deliberately and wasn’t merely an accident. Federal authorities are closely monitoring the investigation into the explosion aboard a Daallo Airlines flight over Somalia. They are looking at Somali al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab as a leading suspect, reported Fox News, citing a law enforcement official.
Although no organization has claimed responsibility for the incident, investigators strongly suspect the Al-Shabaab jihadist group was behind the attack. The group has waged a bloody decade-long battle in Somalia against the current government and has strong affiliations with al-Qaeda. It may not be as big as the ISIS, but its methodologies are quite similar to the terror organization. Moreover, Al-Shabaab possesses a stockpile of weapons, including assault rifles, RPG, grenades, and other small arms. Reports also indicate the group has acquired the knowledge of making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Small IEDs, like the “soda bomb” that was used by the ISIS to bring down a Russian Metrojet plane over Egypt’s Sinai desert, are prime examples of just how much devastation a small bomb can cause. Incidentally, it is believed that it was an EgyptAir staffer who might have smuggled the soda bomb onto the plane. Similarly, an IED, which could have been concealed inside a laptop, might have been responsible for tearing a hole in the Somalia plane.
What lends credence to laptop bomb theory is the location and size of the hole, a trail of soot, and two more forensic facts. Aviation experts point out that the hole appears quite consistent with a small blast. The hole isn’t quite large, but the location is of more importance. The hole is seemingly larger just below the seat, which is located quite near the wings.
These facts indicate the explosion might have meant to take out one of the engines as well. The hull of the plane is bent outward, which usually happens when an explosion is projected from the inside. Moreover, the trail of soot, coupled with initial damage assessment tests, indicates the presence of explosive TNT residue, reported CNN. However, such preliminary tests have had a high false-positive rate before. Further tests are under way, added an official.
The Airbus A321 plane, operated by Dubai-based Daallo Airlines, was headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. Shortly after a routine takeoff, passengers witnessed a horrific scene. A side panel of the plane was ripped off, exposing the passengers. Despite the dangerous conditions, the brave pilot managed to return to Mogadishu airport, Somalia. Only two passengers suffered minor injuries. However, the incident claimed an innocent life. A passenger was sucked out of the plane a few moments after the explosion.
Explosion blows hole in fuselage. 2 pple wounded; a 60 yr-old male ejected on impact/sucked out and killed; body found in Bal'ad w/ burns.— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) February 3, 2016
Authorities in the Balcad region, about 19 miles north of Mogadishu, later said they found the body of a man believed to have been sucked out of the plane, reported Reuters.
Speaking about the lone casualty, a police officer at the Mogadishu airport said, “The dead body of the passenger is being transported to Mogadishu. He dropped when the explosion occurred in the plane.”
Update: Somalia officials have confirmed that the explosion aboard the plane was caused by a bomb and that it was concealed in a laptop. They have even identified the passenger. According to the Mirror, Somali officials have confirmed the bomber was Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh. He was wheelchair bound and in all likelihood used the chair to conceal the bomb.
TSA already checks electronics to ensure they aren’t explosives.
[Photo by AP]