‘UK, US spies think ISIS blew up plane with bomb on board’

London :British and American spies are believed to have intercepted Islamic State messages that provide evidence that the reason for the crash of the doomed Russian jet was mid-air explosion of a smuggled bomb, according to a media report.

“British and American spies are believed to have intercepted Islamic State messages between Syria and Egypt that provided evidence of a smuggled bomb,” The Times reported.

On Wednesday a joint US-British intelligence operation used satellites to uncover electronic communications between militants in Syria and Sinai.

“The breakthrough came four days after Metrojet Flight 9268 exploded over the Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board,” the report said.

The tone and content of the messages convinced analysts that a bomb had been carried on board by a passenger or a member of the airport ground staff, it said.

Hours later Downing Street declared that a bomb was likely to have brought down the jet.

The UK government cancelled flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday amid fears that the Russian passenger plane was brought down by an Islamic State (ISIS) bomb.

Investigators who flew in from the UK believe a device was carried on board as part of hand luggage and exploded mid-air.

“I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board and we are taking that very seriously,” President Obama said last night.

Stranded British tourists in Egypt’s tourist resort town Sharm el-Sheikh have started making their way back to the UK even as seven extra flights have been halted.

Two Easyjet planes took off from the Egyptian resort town and flights from other airlines were scheduled to depart for Britain later.

In total, 21 UK-bound flights are expected to take the estimated 19,000 British nationals on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh back home.

Britain is requesting extra background checks on Egyptian baggage handlers, according to Downing Street sources quoted by the daily, suggesting that the theory of a terrorist mole within Sharm el-Sheikh airport had not been ruled out.

In a statement on its website, Easyjet said it would cover the costs of additional accommodation and reasonable expenses for anyone affected by the disruption.

“We are working with the UK government at the highest level on a solution. In the meantime we are also developing a contingency plan so we can bring our customers home as early as possible, once we get permission to fly,” it said.
Only hand luggage is being allowed on flights, with hold baggage being transported later by the government.

Passengers have been advised to only bring essential items such as passports, car and house keys, money, medicines, and mobile phones.