Downed EgyptAir jetliner had been tagged with graffiti: “We will bring this plane down”


“Three EgyptAir security officials said the threatening graffiti, which appeared about two years ago, had been the work of aviation workers at Cairo Airport. Playing on the phonetic similarity between the last two letters in the plane’s registration, SU-GCC, and the surname of Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, some workers also wrote ‘traitor’ and ‘murderer.’” That would suggest that the graffiti artists were partisans of the Muslim Brotherhood. Were they also the ones who ultimately made good on the threat?

EgyptAir

“EgyptAir Was Aware of Threats to Security, Including One Scribbled on Plane,’ by Declan Walsh, Nour Youssef and Kareem Fahim, New York Times, May 21, 2016:

CAIRO — In an eerie coincidence, the EgyptAir jetliner that plunged into the Mediterranean on Thursday was once the target of political vandals who wrote in Arabic on its underside, “We will bring this plane down.”

Three EgyptAir security officials said the threatening graffiti, which appeared about two years ago, had been the work of aviation workers at Cairo Airport. Playing on the phonetic similarity between the last two letters in the plane’s registration, SU-GCC, and the surname of Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, some workers also wrote “traitor” and “murderer.”

The officials, who were interviewed separately and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the airline’s security procedures because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the graffiti had been linked to the domestic Egyptian political situation at the time rather than to a militant threat. Similar graffiti against Mr. Sisi, a former general, was scrawled across Cairo after the military ousted the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013.

Since then, the airline has put into effect a variety of new security measures in response to Egypt’s political turmoil, jihadist violence and other aviation disasters like the crash of a Russian plane that killed 224 people in October. EgyptAir has fired employees for their political leanings, stepped up crew searches and added extra unarmed in-flight security guards. Three such guards died in Thursday’s crash of Flight 804.

Whether those moves were sufficient remained an open question on Saturday as experts pored over data emitted by the plane in its final minutes for clues as to what had brought it down. The French air accident investigation authority confirmed that the data showed that several smoke alarms had been activated while the plane plunged toward the sea.

But they cautioned that the signals, sent by a monitoring system on board the Airbus A320 jetliner, did not offer enough information to conclude what had caused the crash.

“These are not messages that enable us to interpret anything,” said Sébastien Barthe, a spokesman for France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis. “If there is smoke, it means that there is potentially a fire somewhere, but it doesn’t tell us where the fire is, and it doesn’t help us establish whether it is something malevolent or something technical.”

In an audio message released Saturday, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the official spokesman of the Islamic State and the head of a unit dedicated to external attacks, denounced the American-led military campaign against the group but did not mention the EgyptAir crash.

EgyptAir’s security procedures last came under scrutiny in March when a passenger on a domestic flight pretended to be wearing an explosive vest and forced the plane to land in Cyprus. The crisis was resolved within hours when the man, later determined to be psychologically troubled, surrendered. The Egyptian authorities were quick to post surveillance videos that they said showed he had been searched before boarding the flight.

Among the 66 people on Thursday’s flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris were three EgyptAir in-flight security personnel — one more than the normal team of two for reasons that were not entirely clear….

Advertisements

Share your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s