It has been said that one reason American and British intelligence agencies suspect an ISIS bomb brought down a Russian Metrojet airliner over Egypt is that elevated “chatter” about the incident between ISIS militants was detected online. On Monday, U.S. intelligence officials told ABC News these intercepts “indicated that ISIS was in communication with someone at the airport.”
Subsequent reports clarified that ISIS militants discussed recruiting an operative from airport staff in some of the messages intercepted by Western intelligence. Judging by this chatter, the militants seemed confident they had someone at the airport.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) discussed the same theory on Sunday’s installment of ABC’s This Week. “ISIS may have concluded that the best way to defeat airport defenses is not to go through them but to go around them with the help of somebody on the inside,” said Schiff, based on classified briefings he has attended.
Investigators are reportedly looking at surveillance tapes and employee records from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport to follow up on the possibility of an ISIS “inside man.”
The Associated Press reported seven anonymous security officials at Sharm el-Sheikh have complained about gaps in security, including malfunctioning equipment, lax procedures, and bribes taken by low-paid police officers. “I can’t tell you how many times I have caught a bag full of drugs or weapons that they have let through for 10 euros or whatever,” said one of these officials.
Also over the weekend, Egyptian authorities – who have generally resisted conclusions about a bombing – announced that a “distinct but undetermined noise” was heard during the last seconds of the cockpit voice recording. U.S. investigators expressed confidence in their ability to determine if this was the sound of a bomb detonating.