Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Sunday that he is convinced that an Islamic State bomb took down the Russian airliner – saying “this is a new chapter for ISIS,” while comparing the incident to the 9/11 terror attacks and calling for tightened U.S. security.
Fox News reported that “All indicators are pointing to the fact that it was ISIS putting a bomb on an airplane,” McCaul, R-Texas, told “Fox News Sunday.” “I have a high degree of confidence. It’s been my gut (feeling) all along. … This is comparable to 9/11 for” Russia.
McCaul said he’s basing his conclusion in large part on intelligence reports, ISIS’ declaration of war on Russia and the so-called white box recovered from the plane, which officials say recorded a “loud bang” before the Oct. 31 incident.
The Russian-bound commercial jet crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Most of the passengers were Russian.
Officials now increasingly suspect somebody, perhaps an airport worker, planted the bomb at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt, from where the plane departed.
Moscow announced Friday that it was suspending all flights to Egypt, the BBC reported, and tourists were put on dozens of special flights to go home. At least 11,000 people were flown out of Egypt to Russia, with more expected to return on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration has taken additional safety measures on U.S.-bound flights from the Middle East, including additional screening.
McCaul said he thinks the agency has been “proactive” in its response, but suggested security is needed to focus more on airport or airline employees.
“It’s a huge threat,” said McCaul, who also argued that ISIS appears to be the bomb-making threat that Al Qaeda has notoriously been.
Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four U.S. commercial jets on Sept. 11, 2001, slamming one into the Pentagon and two into the World Trade Center towers in New York. Passengers fought against the terrorists in the fourth plane, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa. Nearly 3,000 were killed in the attacks.
McCaul also said the Russian plane tragedy was, in part, the fault of the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy.
“When you project weakness throughout the world and you have a failed foreign policy, this is what you get,” McCaul told Fox. “And now we have chaos in the Middle East, have ISIS taking over Iraq, Syria, Northern Africa, Egypt. Now we have the Russians in there; it has presented a very complicated strategy moving forward in terms of protecting the American people.”
In lieu of the ISIS bomb on Russian airliner, U.S. officials have ordered enhanced security at overseas airports.