Russian plane crash: ISIS chatter supports bomb theory, officials say

Updated 6:40 PM EST, Mon November 9, 2015
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The wreckage of a A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Russian airline Kogalymavia's flight 9268 crashed en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on October 31, killing all 224 people on board, the vast majority of them Russian tourists. AFP PHOTO / RUSSIA'S EMERGENCY MINISTRY / MAXIM GRIGORYEV
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The wreckage of a A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Russian airline Kogalymavia's flight 9268 crashed en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on October 31, killing all 224 people on board, the vast majority of them Russian tourists. AFP PHOTO / RUSSIA'S EMERGENCY MINISTRY / MAXIM GRIGORYEV *RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / RUSSIA'S EMERGENCY MINISTRY / MAXIM GRIGORYEV" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS *MAXIM GRIGORYEV/AFP/Getty Images
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In this Russian Emergency Situations Ministry photo, made available on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015 Russian and Egyptian experts work at the crash site of a Russian passenger plane bound for St. Petersburg in Russia that crashed in Hassana, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. A Russian cargo plane on Monday brought the first bodies of Russian victims home to St. Petersburg, from Egypt.(Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)
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Story highlights

NEW: British foreign secretary: "It's more likely than not" that a bomb brought down the plane

Russia: The remains of more than 100 victims have been identified through DNA testing

Some intelligence used to assess what happened to jet came from Israel, sources say

CNN —  

ISIS’ affiliate in Egypt says it brought down Metrojet Flight 9268. And U.S. officials are more confident that terrorists bombed the Russian plane, killing all 224 people aboard.

But key questions remain: If terrorists did plant a bomb, how did they do it? And what could prevent that from happening again?

Here’s the latest on what we know about the disaster:

The bomb theory

Several senior U.S. intelligence, military and national security officials have told CNN about the growing confidence that terrorists bombed the plane.

One official said it was “99.9% certain.” Another said it was “likely.”

The plane was headed from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia, on October 31. But not long after takeoff, it disintegrated midair and crashed in the Sinai Peninsula.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday that his government still believes “it’s more likely than not” that an explosive device caused the plane crash.

“Obviously, we won’t know absolutely for certain until the final analysis of the wreckage has taken place,” he said. “That could take some time.”

British officials, he said, “acted on a precautionary basis” using all the evidence they had when they decided last week to suspend flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, he said. He declined to detail what intelligence led to the move, but said the decision – which came a day before Egypt’s President was scheduled to visit London – wasn’t made lightly.

“We’re sharing what we can. But some intelligence is sensitive, and clearly we don’t share the most sensitive intelligence. What people like the Russians and the Egyptians will very clearly be able to see is the conclusions that we have reached. … Clearly, that was not a comfortable decision for us to make. We made it on the basis of the information,” he said.

Egyptian officials, who are leading the main crash investigation, haven’t expressed as much confidence in the bomb theory.

“All the scenarios” are still on the table, said Ayman al-Muqaddam, the head of the investigation.

“We don’t know what happened exactly,” he said.

The Egyptians aren’t the only ones involved. Experts from Russia, France, Germany and Ireland – countries that are connected in various ways to the Airbus A321-200 that crashed – are also investigating.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to reporters Monday that the United Kingdom provided Russia with data on the downing of the jet.

Meanwhile, talks between U.S., Russian and Egyptian officials about the potential scope of American assistance in the investigation are ongoing. U.S. law enforcement officials told CNN that the FBI is already offering limited support but has no plans to send a team to the region.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Monday that Russian experts may receive the first forensic analysis data potentially revealing traces of explosive substances on the wreckage as early as Thursday. But more definitive conclusions could take longer, according to the report.

Sources: Israel provided intercepts