ISIS is sending a message with Russian plane crash in Sinai, experts say

Omar Halawa, Tuesday 17 Nov 2015

Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis
A snapshot from a video released on Twitter by Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis on August 28, 2014

Experts believe that the Russian plane that crashed over Sinai last month, now believed by the Kremlin to have been a terrorist attack, represents a message by ISIS regarding its capability to commit terrorist acts all over the world.

Aly Bakr, an expert on Islamist movements, told Ahram Online that the terrorist group responsible for downing the Russian flight and killing all 224 on board was targeting Russia over the country's strikes against Islamist militants in Syria. The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which is affiliated with ISIS, has claimed responsibility for downing the flight.

Bakr says that the attack is a statement by the group that it has the means to strike at Russia, the US and European countries.

"In two weeks we got two terrorist operations in two touristic spots; Paris and Sinai," Bakr said. "This is a direct message that ISIS is capable of committing large-scale terrorist acts in a short period of time."

Bakr says that what gives ISIS the ability to undertake such operations is that many of its members have Arab, Russian and European passports, either legitimate or forged, making it easy for them to move across borders.

Nageh Ibrahim, an expert on terrorist movements and an ex-Jihadist, says that downing the Russian flight over Sinai was not only a strike against Russia, but also against Egypt. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has been waging an intensified insurgency against the Egyptian army in Sinai since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the Russian flight did indeed crash because of a bomb, although this has not been confirmed by the Egyptian authorities heading the investigation into the crash. Russia is intensifying its attacks against militants in Syria in response to the attack.

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