ISIS video claims responsibility for downed jet; Obama still unsure

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov looks at debris from a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – After two days of knocking down speculation about what caused the fiery crash of a Russian jetliner in the Sinai peninsula, President Barack Obama said in a radio interview Nov. 6 that the 224 victims may have been victims of terrorism, American Foreign Press has reported.

"I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board and we are taking that very seriously," Obama said in the interview. He insisted, however, that it was too early to say for sure.

The plane that we downed in Sinai is the best evidence, oh Putin, you swine, Allah willing, we will reach each and every one of you. We will not make do with downing your planes. We will attack you in your lands and we will crush you. We will slaughter you and finish you off. You will be defeated and you will pay dearly for coming to our communities. Just as you bombed our innocent people with your planes, we struck your plane and killed 240 of your people.
- ISIS jihadist in video

Obama's statement runs contrary to reports that Russian and Egyptian officials are holding back on calling the crash an act of terror. British officials, however, are definitively saying that the crash was brought about by a bomb after British spies confirmed the Islamic State was responsible. Now, the British government has instituted a plan to pull British citizens from the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the disaster in a video posting made public by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The video shows a blonde-haired, light skinned jihadist delivering the news to the world in Arabic, but with an Eastern European (possibly Russian) accent.

"We would like to congratulate our brothers in the Islamic State, especially those in the Sinai Province for downing of the plane of the infidel Russian Crusaders. We say to them we are with you, we love you," the jihadist says.

The video also carried a warning for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"As for you, Putin, you swine, I say to you: If you thought that by sending your planes, and by mobilizing your soldiers, you could crush our state, let me tell you, you are wrong and you and your people will regret your actions," the blonde-haired jihadist said.

"The plane that we downed in Sinai is the best evidence, oh Putin, you swine, Allah willing, we will reach each and every one of you. We will not make do with downing your planes. We will attack you in your lands and we will crush you. We will slaughter you and finish you off. You will be defeated and you will pay dearly for coming to our communities. Just as you bombed our innocent people with your planes, we struck your plane and killed 240 of your people."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a press briefing Nov. 4 that the British were taking the situation in the Sinai seriously because airlines originating from England make repeated hauls to Sharm al-Sheikh.

"There are no American carriers that regularly operate in the Sinai Peninsula. There are also flights that fly from the Sinai Peninsula directly to the UK. Those kinds of flights are not regularly scheduled between the Sinai Peninsula and the United States," Earnest said.

"So the situation is just different. And obviously British authorities are taking the steps that they believe are appropriate to safeguard the British traveling public. The United States has already taken steps that we believe are consistent with protecting American travelers overseas."

When asked by a reporter if the plane crash was an act of terror, however, Earnest would not commit to that assertion.

"I did mention earlier in the briefing that we are interested in understanding exactly what exactly led to the tragic airline disaster in the Sinai Peninsula, and Egyptian authorities are conducting that investigation. Obviously Russian authorities are involved, given the substantial number of Russian citizens that are involved. And the United States has been in touch with those authorities, but they're the ones that are conducting the investigation."