Senior U.S. intelligence and military officials say they are almost certain a terrorist bomb downed the Russian passenger jet that broke apart over Egypt last week killing all 224 people on board.
One official says it is "99.9% certain," while another says it is "likely" a bomb was planted on Metrojet Flight 9268 just before it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on a flight to St. Petersburg,
Examination of the plane’s black box voice recordings indicate there was a noise resembling an explosion just before communication with the aircraft was lost.
While Egyptian officials, who are heading the main investigation into the air crash, have not officially confirmed a bomb was responsible their focus has turned to treating the investigation as a terrorist act rather than an engine malfunction or pilot error.
The most likely possibility is that someone who may have worked at the airport, managed to evade security and plant a bomb on the Airbus A321-200.
Although a terror group ISIL which is reportedly an affiliate of ISIS, claimed responsibility for the downing of the passenger group, the claim was at first dismissed by Egyptian authorities, British and U.S. intelligence intercepts of communications after the crash now point directly at ISIS. The ISIS messages monitored by the U.S and British intelligence agencies are separate from the ISIL’s public claims.
With all signs pointing to a bomb being the most obvious cause of the crash, experts from the U.S. Russia, Germany Ireland and France will be joining the investigation which will focus on examining the debris of the plane for signs of explosives.
The Russian government, after initially playing down suggestions the crash was caused by terrorists, has suspended all air traffic with Egypt and overnight stepped up airstrikes on ISIS targets.
Jeh Johnson, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary says U.S aviation officials are taking "precautionary interim steps" to increase security on all international flights into and out of the United States.