Looking for the rocket man

Yes, there is an issue in the Sinai, Sharm Al Sheik no less. It is not news, I have known about it for a while as has most people. It is in the news, it is in the pages, there is gossip and there is much speculation. In the end another plane went down, this time it is the Russians who get to deal with this. Now, I am not a man to hold a grudge, but has anyone barred their access? It is not like MH17, yet still to give the Russians direct access after they did all; they could to stop the Dutch from getting access to evidence and the victims is a bit of a no no, nothing personal Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!

The news from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/07/new-era-airport-security-sinai-terror) gives us “Fears focus on screening of baggage handlers as aviation experts demand new global response“, you see that could also be seen as “Fears focus on screening of baggage handlers as aviation experts, demands for new global response“. What a difference a comma makes eh?

This calls a few issues into question. Let’s face it, after someone got rid of those two slightly less appealing buildings roughly 5163 days ago, we still need to see issues with quotes like: “A fundamental overhaul of global aviation security is required“, how bloody moronically stupid does a community get to be? From what I can tell, the overall ‘security’ at the slot machines in Vegas are a lot better than in well over 40% of the airfields, so what gives?

In addition, we now see: ‘British Sharm Al Sheikh flight in ‘missile’ incident‘ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34754577). The response there is “A spokesman said the incident had involved ground-to-ground firing at a military base a few miles from Sharm-el Sheikh airport, and that no plane had been in danger” what ground to ground firing and who was firing? By the way, a flare is not ground to ground and it is not a flare either.

I am not opposing the article or the response, yet overall the BBC article is decently less then clear whilst the Egyptian response might not be reliable as they have a few more ‘presentational issues’ to deal with. Yet if it was all about ‘routine military activity and was not a targeted attack‘, why did the flight deviate? There must have been a decent level of perceived danger for the pilot to do this. I will readily accept any pilot stating ‘better be safe than sorry‘, which means that he/she saw a possible danger. And even though this was in August, it gives clear evidence in connection to what is about to follow.

So is this a mere trivial event? Not that downing a Russian flight is trivial, but is this a possible escalation for Saudi Arabia? You see, the airport has resorts to the north and the south, so there should be no threat there (we hope), yet to the west of the Ring road what is there? There seems to be a military compound with blue rectangles (possibly water purification) but there is no way to tell for certain), from there it is a mere 8 Km to the airstrip, so was the pilot jumpy or are events downplayed? I am happy if it was a mere jumpy pilot, who I would instantly support for any choice he made to keep his passengers safe, but can we agree that if ground to ground fire is visible to the pilot that the explosions were really big, or that the events were a lot closer to the airport? My issue here is not that the event took place, but that it gets reiterated to hell at this point 7 weeks later. The mention “A missile that came within 300 metres of a plane carrying British tourists to Sharm el-Sheikh was “probably a flare”, found investigators“, should remain an issue, because why fire flares at a commercial plane? Also, those buggers are not that fast, or do not tend to go so high, which means that there is a little more to the story. In addition, we get “Another Thomson plane was also flying into [Sharm el-Sheikh] at the same time and saw the rocket” as well as the fact that flares tend to really light up in a way similar to ‘here comes the sun’, so what gives? In addition the final fact, if both planes saw the ‘light’ and both remain consistent about a ‘rocket’, in my view the issue remains. Yet the final quote here is “Thomson said there was “no cause for concern” for further flights“, which means that it could be a flare, but in all this better visibility and more open response, especially in ‘light’ of what blew up afterwards would have been better (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/07/missile-thomson-airplane-flare).

You see, this is all speculation on my part (yet I try to be as cold and as logically as possible) something you will not likely find in the Daily Mail or some Murdoch publications. They will all be about fear and about emotional speculation. In equal measure of worry, the MFO South Camp should be no more than 35 Km to the South of the airport, so if there was ground to ground action was the MFO informed, were any activities spotted by them? More info that did not make the papers or the Tabloids. This is all nice and speculative, but in the end, this is all an escalation of what happened to Russian flight 9268, yet there is no overall evidence at this point. Some of the photos show that shrapnel holes are from the inside out, which gives weight to the UK claim that it was a bomb on board of the plane. That evidence comes with the support that the cone of firing a Stinger, or even a stinger alternative like the Igla-S seems unlikely. Only a more modern version like the Starstreak or an alternative would then be the consideration, but for ISIS to get something like that is even less likely, make that extremely unlikely. If it was a Stinger or alike it had to be fired either from the sea, or from the Sinai itself, but that requires the terrorist to be too close to the Sharm Al Sheik – Dahab ring road. This might give more weight to the ground to ground firing, but also gives weight to the UK pilot to take a very quick gander somewhere else. All this remains speculation!

If the bomb was on board, we get back to my initial issue ‘how bloody moronically stupid does a community get to be’, you see, Egypt requires tourism to go on, to go on successfully. So why is there not more stringent security? With roughly 10 million tourists bringing 6 billion in revenue, security should have been on the forefront of the minds of the Egyptian ministers of both tourism and Intelligence. Which impacts me as I laughingly read the headline ‘Egyptian foreign minister claims allies not sharing intelligence on possible Isis bomb plot’. Yet there is one other alternative. It is shown by the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/sinai-plane-crash-egyptian-foreign-minister-claims-allies-not-sharing-intelligence-on-possible-isis-a6725236.html). The alternative is that mechanical malfunction from the tail is still not impossible, however, in another article we see ‘Black box data ‘reveals Metrojet A321 was brought down over Egypt by explosion’’, which is also from the independent. The quote “tests carried out on the cockpit voice recorder show the tragedy could not have been caused by either a technical fault or an error by the crew” could be regarded as significant here.

So as I go back to my moment of hilarious laughter (I do sound like a Hyena at such moments), the first one is “Sameh Shoukry said no other countries had given the Egyptian government access to their information” My thoughts on that can be seen in a number of ways. Sameh Hassan Shoukry must and does realise that Egypt still has a corruption problem. One side is lighted by Georges Fahmi in the Carnegie Middle East Center. Here we find the quote from a statement from Mahmoud Hussein, the former secretary general of the Brotherhood that said: “The Brotherhood operates with its apparatuses and institutions in accordance with the regulations and with the members of the Guidance Bureau. It has supported its work with a number of assistants in accordance with these regulations and the decisions of its institutions; its deputy leader accordingly acts as a general guide [head of the organization] until the general guide is released [from prison] God willing, and the Guidance Bureau is the one that manages the work of the organization” (at: http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/07/14/struggle-for-leadership-of-egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood/idbr).

It is ‘with the members of the Guidance Bureau‘ that gives pause. I have no evidence in support, but I believe that they are either still partially part of the police apparatus, or they are getting support from sympathetic people in official offices giving them the heads up when to relocate. I think that in their desperation to survive a few of the Brotherhood sheep are actually ISIS wolves. If they are all over Sharm Al Sheik, than they could be some friendly tourist officials, is that such a stretch?

In support I give that tactically ISIS needs direct access to Sharm Al Sheik should they ever truly decide to attack Saudi Arabia in a more direct way! An airstrip with planes is too tempting a target to ignore and a place devoid of tourists might make a better target.

The previous picture I placed, partially in speculation for the part that now follows. In the first the intended insincere response by Sameh Hassan Shoukry, who as a diplomat should have known better (he probably did), yet the second group of persons are another matter. Sedki Sobhi Sayyid Ahmed, minister of Defence is actually the smallest target here. In all this, the seemingly failed security at Sharm Al Sheik airport poses questions for the positions for Mohamed Hossam Kamal, minister of Civil aviation, as the Airport at Sharm Al Sheik is the foundation of 6 billion in revenue, so more diligence would have been expected, in that same light questions should be asked from Ashraf Salman, minister of investment as these events are never ever good for continued investments. Yet by far the biggest issue might be with Egyptian Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Administration (DMI), which at present should be Director Salah Al-Badri. Yes we get that Alexandria and Cairo are more juicy targets, but with ISIS in the Sinai, having a better presence in Sharm Al Sheik would have been essential and whomever was there seems to have blown their job away (one Russian plane at a time).

You see for Director Salah Al-Badri the issue is a lot more pressing, if ISIS is actually tactically active in Sharm Al Sheik, than in equal measure they could be active in El Tor, which means that they are within striking distance of both Ras Gharib and Ras Shokeir having any quality presence in Sharm Al Sheik was not that much of a stretch.

Beside the point of how the Egyptians perform maintenance on their house, a certain event 5163 days ago should have been adamant in overhauling security at their immediate airports and Sharm Al Sheik definitely qualifies here. Yet in here lies the speculation, if we accept a bomb, when was it added? If it was from a tourist it is one thing, if it got added to the load from another source we have a massive problem to consider, because if it happens there what other airports are considered dangerous? You see if this was a small flight to Eilat (which is currently not possible). What other options are there? You see the one event that does count is that any attack from ISIS in Sinai is also a direct danger towards Israel. Southern Israel has been under fire from ISIS last July, so the stretch that Sharm Al Sheik is a tactical point for attacks on Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia seems not that large. A place loaded with fuel, tourists (read propaganda lessons), possible planes (that could not get away) and moral visibility. So even if my speculation is really farfetched, is the needed for quality security and intelligence perhaps less of a stretch? That support can be found with CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/04/middleeast/russian-plane-crash-airport-security/index.html), the quote “In May, a mentally disturbed man slipped through a hole in a wall and tampered with a plane, the Cairo Post reported, citing Egyptian newspaper Youm7. The man approached a plane sitting on the runway and tried to open a door to the aircraft, the article said. He was arrested after moving a block in front of the plane’s wheel, the article said” should be self-evident.

As we get to the end we need to ask: should we look for the rocket man? If the airport security outside the airport is so lacks, we must worry on the first premise that flights are in danger when we consider that security stops 100 meters from the fence and a Stinger, a 28 year old technology has an 8000 meter range. What else can they throw at the tourists there and as such, perhaps the evading UK pilot was in the end, the brightest person of the lot. If it turns out to be a bomb, than there are even more issues because that means that ‘wolves’ were on the compound and none of the sheep woke up, at which a stinger would be the least of their problems.


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