Egypt’s President links Russian plane crash to terrorism

Story highlights

It's the first time he mentioned the possibility that Metrojet Flight 9268 was attacked by terrorists, state media said

Russian authorities also initially resisted the idea that terrorism was involved

In November, Moscow said a bomb downed the plane and it offered a $50 million reward

CNN  — 

Egypt’s President has publicly linked terrorism to the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai last year - reportedly for the first time.

For months, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had resisted the notion of terror involvement, although ISIS claimed responsibility, and Russian investigators said there had been a bomb on board the plane. In a speech on Wednesday, he alluded to a connection.

“Has the confrontation and terrorism ended? No, not yet. Whoever downed that plane, what did he want?” el-Sisi said at a government conference. “Just to hit tourism? No. To hit relations. To hit relations with Russia, hit relations with Italy.”

State-run news site al-Ahram reported that this was the first time the Egyptian President has acknowledged terrorism could be the cause of the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 on October 31 that killed all 224 people on board.

Egyptian investigators have not yet published a definitive report on the crash or possible terrorism at its root, al-Ahram reported. And el-Sisi did not say directly in his speech that terrorists carried out an attack.

Russia’s initial resistance

Shortly after the crash, Western intelligence, particularly in Britain and the United States, pointed to a bomb having ruptured the plane. They said it may have been smuggled aboard in Sharm el-Sheikh, where the plane took off – possibly with help from an airport employee.

But initially, both Egyptian and Russian authorities resisted the idea that terrorists may have struck, perhaps retaliating for Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Then, in November, the Russian Federal Security Service said a bomb with 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of explosives had detonated on board the plane. The government offered a $50 million reward for information leading to those responsible.

Russian investigators presented a soda can and circuitry as being components of the device, and after Russia’s announcement of the reward, its military flew multiple airstrikes over Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS’ proclaimed caliphate.

CNN’s Don Melvin, Ian Lee and Matthew Chance contributed to this report.