Thursday, June 11, 2009

Terrorist suspects were aboard Air France 447



In a June
2 posting, I groused about the panting haste with which various official and unofficial parties assured us that the there was no evidence of terrorism in the fatal accident involving Air France 447, which mysteriously plunged into the ocean from cruising altitude, an extremely rare accident script. Technically they were correct; there was no evidence of terrorism. There was no evidence of any causal factors, period. What sense does it make to rule out possible causes when there is as yet nothing to go on? Now we learn that
Two passengers with names linked to Islamic terrorism were on board the Air France flight which crashed and killed 228, it emerged today.

French secret service staff established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the Airbus 330-200 in Rio de Janeiro on 31 May.

(Tip of the hat: Gates of Vienna)


They established that the two passengers were on highly-classified French documents listing radical Muslims considered to be a threat. A security service source said the link was "highly significant".

Proof of a suicide bombing? Of course not. Significant? I agree with the French security agency: yes. You might even call it newsworthy.

I'll wait right here while you look for this information in the Washington Post. Or the New York Times.

What, nothing? Come on — zero, rien, nada, niente?

No, the WaPo is predictably devoting most of the home page of its Web edition to stories about the psychopath who killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum. (They'll be dining out on this for weeks, with dark hints that all gun owners and conservatives are like the nutter who did the killing, mark my words.) It's a legitimate news story about an ugly event. But the possibility that 228 people (compared with one in the Holocaust Museum) were murdered might also be worth a mention.

The latest Times follow-up limits its revelations to:

Two pieces of evidence have emerged that lend new credence to the theory that the Air France jet that crashed more than a week ago broke up in flight.

That isn't necessarily evidence of terrorism. Airplanes have been known to break up when for some reason they exceed their performance envelope. But it's unusual, particularly in the case of large airliners flown by seasoned crews.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that the French security service was thinking along the same lines as I was on June 2 when I suggested that the backgrounds of every passenger be thoroughly checked.


6/12 A later story said that the French security service withdrew its claim that two men with terrorist histories had been on the plane — confusion caused by the passengers having the same names as "persons of interest." I can sympathize with all anti-terrorist agencies: there are said to be 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, so that's about 600 million males, and maybe a third of them are named Mohammed. I think there are many common family names, too. It's strange to read in the news about, say, Omar Khayyam.

If the revised story isn't disinformation (for instance, to encourage a cell under surveillance to be complacent), then it was a false lead. It doesn't change the main point of my postings, which is that governments and crash investigators have no business ruling out terrorism until they have a reasonable basis for doing so.


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