Conspiracy theories abound in Cairo about EgyptAir Flight 990
November 15, 1999
From Correspondent Ben Wedeman
CAIRO (CNN) -- Many people in Cairo believe a conspiracy lies behind the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 that killed all 217 people on board. On the streets and in the cafes, fingers and rumors point in predictable directions -- toward Israel, the CIA, the U.S. military.
"No, they are not telling the truth," said one man. "At the time being, you don't expect anybody to tell the truth."
It was broadcast that an American official said the plane was hit by a missile, said one store owner, who claimed he knew there is a long-range missile based in New York.
"Why is America making a coverup?" demanded another man. "Any other country would have already figured out why the plane crashed."
The rumors making the rounds in Cairo may be a diversion for some. But for the families who lost loved ones in the crash, those rumors hurt.
Since the day of the crash, the families of the dead have been reeling, including the family of Ahmed Habashi, the plane's pilot.
For days, speculation focused on a possible suicide by the pilot or co-pilot, on a mad struggle for the controls in the cockpit.
It was all nonsense, says his sister.
"They speculate, everybody speculates," said Didi Farid. "Like my brother, they all knew he committed suicide. It's all speculation. Everybody come and say his opinion, but where is the truth? We don't know the truth. Do you know what happened to the plane?"
Habashi's sister knows more than most. She travelled to Rhode Island in the days after the crash to join other relatives of the victims. But her stay there did little to relieve the pain of her brother's death.
"We were introduced to all those big shots -- who is expert in this, expert in that -- and we don't want to hear about that," said Farid. "All we want to hear is, where is the bodies, where is our beloved people? Where are they, vanished from the face of the earth?"
All she is left with are doubts -- and suspicions that something is being hidden.
"Nobody knows what happened to TWA. Nobody knows what happened to Swissair. It's the same here. I think we know what they want us to know, that's my feeling," said Farid.
Like so many other Egyptians, the pilot's daughter, Enji Habashi, suspects foul play.
"It's something intentional and I think this plane has been sabotaged," Habashi.
She knows she has little to base this on, but takes solace in one bit of certainty.
"This for me is enough -- to know that now he is in heaven, he is in good hands, he is in a good place," she said. "And even if they didn't find the body, I know where he is."
And that is about all she and her family know for certain.
FBI chief meets with leader of EgyptAir 990 probe
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