The head of the Russian FSB blamed the downing of EgyptAir flight MS804 on a terror attack, hours before Egyptian officials even mentioned it as a theory.
An Airbus A320, flying from Paris to Cairo with 69 people on board, disappeared from radars on Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, it turned out the plane crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Greek Island of Karpathos. By the time Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said the possibility of a terror attack is “stronger” than a technical malfunction, the FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov had already gone on the record:
Unfortunately, today another accident has happened to an Egyptian airlines plane. Apparently, it is a terror attack that caused death of 66 people from 12 countries
Bortnikov went on to call on European partners “to undertake measures together for finding people responsible for this horrible terror attack.”
Last fall, a Russian A321 registered to Kogalymavia Airlines, with 224 people on board, crashed in the Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm-el-Sheikh. It was headed for Saint Petersburg.
The crash happened on October 31st, less then a month after Vladimir Putin had launched airstrikes in Syria.
Russian authorities immediately excluded terrorism as a possible cause of the crash, and state-controlled Russian media hurried up to blame the airline for poor maintenance of the jet—despite the fact that two weeks before the crash ISIS had called for jihad against Russia, and despite the fact that a day after the crash Islamic State took responsibility for the terror attack in the Sinai.
Shocked and frustrated, citizens of Saint Petersburg started to gather in Senate Square, bringing flowers after the crash; but crowds of mourning people were not what Vladimir Putin needed at the moment of his personal triumph, having just returned to the world stage at the UN General Assembly, posing as a peacemaker and savior of the world from the scourge of terrorism.
Days after the crash, U.S. intelligence shared its data with the Kremlin, providing concrete evidence of a terror attack having taken place on board. But Russian authorities continued to not see the facts.
It took them 17 full days to officially recognize the terror attack that took lives of 224 Russians. By that time the people’s grief had ebbed, and everybody had forgotten the connection between Russia’s intervention in Syria, ISIS’ call to jihad, and the innocent victims of Russia’s foreign policy.