Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate said it would tell the world how they have downed a Russian plane in its own time. How do you read such statement? If they really did this wouldn’t be they even more vocal about this, saying some details? Read few comments.
Gilbert Ramsay, Lecturer in International Relations, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), University of St Andrews
I agree that the claim is somewhat mysterious. If, as now seems likely, the plane was downed by a bomb, probably planted by an IS affiliate (if it were another group, such as Al Qaeda, they would surely have said), then I imagine that they are deliberately withholding information in order to spin out the story through speculation while they wait to put out their own definitive account. This is not inconsistent with AQAP’s attempts to plant bombs on aircraft destined for the US, where the group’s own detailed account of its action was published in the organisation’s magazine some time after the original news coverage of the event. I suspect the reasoning is that, if they are confident that it was their operation, they know that the investigation will eventually bear that out, and that the denials and dismissals will then serve to further humiliate their enemies. Also, by not revealing specific operational methods they can create more uncertainty and disruption – witness my own country’s suspension of flights from Sharm el-Sheikh. If it were known definitively that IS had planted a bomb and how they had smuggled it on board, confidence could be restored more quickly through measures aimed at closing that particular loophole.
Rodger Shanahan, Nonresident Fellow, Lowy Institute for International Policy
Wilayat Sinai’s announcement is slightly intriguing – on the face of it you think they would want to provide a lot of information up front but on the other they drip-feed information and therefore ensure that they are part of an extended story. This follows previous patterns of behaviour where they ensured their ‘successes’ or excesses took attention off battlefield reverses they may be suffering in Iraq/Syria. It also serves to add weight to their argument that they have reach and capabilities outside their normal area of operations.
It would be unusual for IS or an affiliate to claim such a high profile action and then be proven wrong (particularly given the investigators should be able to ascertain quite readily whether it was caused by an explosion) – PM Cameron’s comments also appear to give weight to the bombing theory.
Sam Mullins, Professor of Counterterrorism, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
At this stage it’s all speculation, although it does seem to be quite unusual. Some terrorist organizations have certainly tried to claim responsibility for things they didn’t do before, while others have denied things that they did do. One potential explanation at this stage (if indeed they’re telling the truth) is that they are in the process of preparing a propaganda video of some description, perhaps with support from ISIS “central” in Syria/Iraq. It’s perhaps worth bearing in mind that the first video-taped claim of responsibility for the London bombings in 2005 wasn’t released until nearly two months later, and the second one appeared a year afterwards. In any case it’s just too early now to really know what happened.
Mathieu Guidère, Writer, Professor, University of Toulouse
Two comments about their last statement:
1) they never lie otherwise they loose any credibility among their followers and fighters;
2) it is a technique that they keep attention for the maximum time and help protect their members who took part to the terrorist plan.