Did really a Schweppes down the Metrojet A321?
The ballet of the hypotheses and the firs suppositions, the firm Russian refusal of the attack theory and after the picture of the IED released by the ISIL. Now everyone seems to have accepted the idea that it was a bomb on board to down the flight 7K9268. But is it really the one published by ISIL?
- Friday, 20 November 2015
The ISIL Pdf magazine, Dabiq, published Wednesday a picture of the handmade bomb that allegedly downed the Metrojet A321 in the skies of the Sinai Peninsula. A pineapple Schweppes can filled with explosives, a detonator and a device that leaves some questions open. But the main one is if such a small device is capable of blowing up a plane of 45 meters and 50 tons. The answer seems to be yes.
Before analyzing what we know of the alleged bomb, it is interesting to read the foreword, which also reveals some details of the attack.
"On “30 September 2015,” after years of supporting the Alawite tyrant [Bashar al-Assad] in the war against the Muslims of Syrian Caliphate, Russia decided to participate directly with its own air force in the war”, page 2 reads. “It was a reckless and arrogant decision of Russia, as if that was not enough the war to the Muslims of the Caucasus caliphate. So, after finding a way around the security at Sharm el-Sheikh and have decided to bring down a plane of a country's American-led coalition against the Islamic state, we changed the goal with a Russian plane. It has loaded a bomb on the plane, killing 219 Crusaders Russians and five other nations, just a month after the senseless decision of Russia”.
According to Dabiq then Isis would have planned an attack in the skies of Sinai before the Russian intervention in Syria, targeting an aircraft of another country, but changed program. It is actually the only new detail revealed, since all the others - a bomb on board, smuggled through security controls at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh - were already part of the reconstruction made by experts and well known.
Many looked at that soda can with suspicion. The conspiracy theorists have flared to say it's just misinformation and that it’s impossible to down a jetliner with a Schweppes. But the clues already available soon after the tragedy let already think to a bomb.
Assuming that the picture is far from verified and verifiable, according to some experts interviewed by the most accountable international newspapers, it is possible indeed.
The Independent asked Sidney Alford, a famous expert of handmade explosives, what he thinks. “Looking at the size of the can, and assuming the density of plastic explosive, that means a 450g bomb”, Alford said. “That, appropriately placed, if at all close to outer skin of the airplane and not shielded by a great amount of luggage, would probably bring down a plane.”
Analyzing the components, Alford said the detonator is not a handmade stuff, while ISIL appeared to have added to the switch to the right a “Hollywood-style red light” for show. “While one light would show that the bomb had been activated, there would be no obvious reason to add a second. It looks as if that part is probably fake.”
According to one expert quoted anonymously by the New York Times, however, The component could serve one of a number of functions like an arming-safe switch, and a separate mechanism for initiating the blasting cap an. The wires are probably electrical connections for the blasting cap. The rest of the circuit, hidden under the black tape, could include small batteries and the electronics necessary to send an electric charge to the blasting cap.” He added that “a soda can could be packed tightly with enough high explosive to seriously damage a jetliner. Though the blast would probably not destroy the plane outright, depending on the nature and location of the damage, it could start a catastrophic sequence of events. A jet moving at cruising speed could then shear apart and break up.”
The Telegraph showed the picture to Dave Welch, a former Royal Navy bomb disposal officer. “"The damage caused would be quite significant given the pressure caused by the explosion and the close confines within an aircraft. It would be quite capable of ripping a hole in an airliner.”
On PPRuNe, a forum for pilots and flight experts, some commented that the can could have not be loaded on the plane by a passenger but with the catering service, which would probably could have easily bypassed the security checks at an airport that does not meet international scurity standards. This would explain the detachment of the tail - where is the galley where meals and drinks are stowed – that fell down at a great distance from the rest of the wreckage. It would also be compatible with the findings of the investigators, who found traces of explosives in the back of the cabin.
The bomb, according to some comments on PPRuNe could be activated by a baro-timer, a device that is triggered either by pressure and a timer, to make it explode only when the aircraft was at cruising altitude to maximize the damages.
Of course we do not know if the photo shows exactly the bomb used on the A321 - nor, to be true, whether it is something similar to that - but there’s a clue of it. The Schweppes can is exactly the type for sale in Egypt, and only in Egypt, as shown by Canmuseum.com. If the device in the picture is a fake created later and elsewhere by ISIS, it would show a remarkable attention to detail.