Debris from the A321 Russian airliner at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Israel provided intelligence regarding the Russian plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, which indicated that a bomb had detonated on board, CNN reported on Sunday.
An unnamed US official and diplomatic source said that Jerusalem handed over information about the blast to the US and UK. One US official told the news outlet he was “99.9% certain” the plane had been bombed, while another said it was “likely.”
Israeli officials declined to comment on the report.
Earlier, a member of the Egyptian investigation team said they were nearly certain explosives had brought the plane down, killing all 224 passengers on board.
“The indications and analysis so far of the sound on the black box indicate it was a bomb,” an investigator — who asked to not be identified — told Reuters. “We are 90 percent sure it was a bomb.”
As for the slim chance of another explanation to the crash, the investigator only commented, “I can’t discuss this now.”
US and British officials have cited intelligence reports indicating that the October 31 flight from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg was brought down by a bomb on the plane.
Most of the passengers were from St. Petersburg and the surrounding region.
After Washington and London said they believed the Russian passenger jet might have been taken down by a bomb, Moscow on Friday halted all flights to Egypt.
Islamic State extremists claimed they brought down the Metrojet flight, without offering proof, saying it was in retaliation for Moscow’s airstrikes that began a month earlier against fighters in Syria.
Sources close to the probe have told AFP that experts involved in the investigation, with the exception of the Egyptians, “strongly favor” the theory of a bomb on board.
One source said there was only an “infinitely small” chance that a technical incident was behind the “sudden explosive decompression” on the plane suggested by an analysis of its black box flight data and voice recorders.
If it was behind the attack, it would be the first time the jihadists, who control large areas of Syria and Iraq, have hit a passenger plane.
The IS affiliate in Egypt is waging a bloody insurgency in north Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.
In St. Petersburg, mourners remembered the victims in a ceremony that saw the bells of the iconic St. Isaac’s Cathedral tolling 224 times in memory of each person killed.
Simon Elliot, aka Al-Baghdadi, son of Jewish parents, Mossad agent
In an excerpt from a 1990 C-SPAN interview with Brian Lamb, Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, authors of the book Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel’s Intelligence Community, describe how the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office officially refers to its subordinate organization “the Mossad” as the “Israeli Secret Intelligence Service,” or ISIS.