UK, US see bomb behind downing of Russian airliner in Egypt

KogalymaviaInformation gathered by British and American intelligence agencies raises the possibility that a bomb may have brought down the Russian civilian airliner that crashed in Egypt last week. The Metrojet Airbus 321 left the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday, heading for St. Petersburg, Russia. But it crashed in the Sinai Peninsula less than 30 minutes after it took off, killing all 224 passengers and crew onboard, the vast majority of whom were Russian citizens.

Earlier this week, Russian airline Kogalymavia, which operated the flight, said its investigation indicated that an “external influence” was responsible for the airplane’s downing. On Wednesday, the British government appeared to confirm the company’s suspicions. Britain’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Philip Hammond, told a press conference in London that the British government’s Crisis Response Committee had concluded that there was “a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft”. He added that Whitehall was suspending effective immediately all flights operated by British carriers to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.

Soon after Hammond’s comments, the Associated Press quoted an unnamed American government official saying that the US had reached the “tentative conclusion” that Islamist militants in Sinai were responsible for planting the bomb on the Kogalymavia airplane. The Americans seem to have reached this conclusion based on intercepted communications messages from the Sinai region.

Egyptian officials have rejected claims that Islamist militants were behind the plane crash, and have criticized London’s decision to suspend all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh as unnecessary and premature. Experts in Russia have also said it is too early to draw formal conclusions about the crash. Meanwhile, the airplane’s flight data recorder has been recovered and will be analyzed by investigators in the coming days.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 November 2015 | Permalink

Mubarak delayed exit in order to move secret funds, say intel sources

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

One of the reasons why Egypt’s disgraced ex-president kept prolonging his rule amidst ferocious anti-government protests this month, was to transfer billions of dollars-worth of personal assets into bank accounts around the world. British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph quotes a “senior Western intelligence official” who claims that Hosni Mubarak’s fund managers began transferring his extensive fortune to numbered bank accounts during the first days of the popular revolution in Egypt. The intelligence official told The Telegraph that Western intelligence services were “aware of some urgent conversations” within the Mubarak family about how to best protect their fortune from Egyptian and international financial investigators. The Mubaraks may have thus pre-empted the freezing of their accounts in Zurich, which was announced by the Swiss government on Friday. In this, Hosni Mubarak appears to have learned from Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee with his family to Saudi Arabia last month, without the benefit of his Swiss bank assets. The latter were frozen following an official request by the Tunisian government. In the case of Mubarak, whose vast $70 billion fortune is mostly managed by his son Gamal, it appears that most of his Swiss bank assets were moved to accounts in third countries in the days before his resignation and are thus “gone by now”, according to one US government official who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity. Read more of this post

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