The head of Russia’s FSB security service told Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian that the Metrojet airliner that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, which killed 224, was an act of terrorism. The crash is believed by intelligence officials to be the result of a bomb placed on the plane, which was carrying mostly vacationers on holiday.
“According to our experts, a homemade explosive device equivalent to 1 kilogram of TNT went off onboard, which caused the plane to break up in the air, which explains why the fuselage was scattered over such a large territory. I can certainly say that this was a terrorist act,” Alexander Bortnikov said.
Bortnikov also told Putin that traces of explosives were found in debris at the crash site. A $50 million reward has been offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the bombing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. Putin ordered special services to focus on finding those responsible for bringing down the plane.
“There’s no statute of limitations for this, we need to know all of their names,” Putin said. “We’re going to look for them everywhere wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any place on Earth and punish them.”
The Metrojet airliner, an Airbus A321-200, crashed shortly after taking off from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport en route to Saint Petersburg. U.S. and British intelligence pointed to an act of terrorism–particular intercepted chatter, a heat signature and the condition of the debris–as the cause in the immediate aftermath of the crash, despite early denials from the Egyptian authorities.
Egypt’s economy, which is highly dependent upon the nation’s tourism industry, has been struggling and officials were concerned the act would further reduce travel. The U.K., Russia and several other countries suspended flights to and from the popular tourist destination, stranding thousands of vacationers in the Red Sea resort, and forcing airlines and tour operators to scramble to get travelers back to their home country.
Putin doubled-down course on his war effort in Syria on Tuesday, stating that Russia’s air campaign in Syria “should not only be continued but should be intensified so that the criminals realize that retribution is inevitable.”
He also instructed the Defense Ministry and General Staff to present their suggestions on how Russia’s operation in Syria could be modified. The Islamic State shortly after the crash took responsibility for the crash, claiming all along that it was the result of a bomb. However, the group taunted officials as to how they managed to pull it off, stating it wasn’t their job to reveal that to officials in the West. It said the attack was retaliation for Russia’s air campaign against IS — and other groups — in Syria, where Moscow wants to preserve the rule of President Bashar Assad.
“In this work, including the search to find and punish the criminals, we are relying on all of our friends,” Putin said. “We will act in accordance with the U.N. Charter’s Article 51, which gives each country the right to self-defense. Everyone who tries to aid the criminals should understand that they will be responsible for giving them shelter.”
The Islamic State shortly after the crash took responsibility for the crash, claiming all along that it was the result of a bomb. However, the group taunted officials as to how they managed to pull it off, stating it wasn’t their job to reveal that to officials in the West.