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memri
June 6, 2016 No.
6459

Conspiracy Theories In Egypt Surrounding Crash Of EgyptAir Flight 804: Accusations Against U.S., U.K., Israel, Turkey; Claims Of Western Plot Against Egypt

In the early morning of May 19, 2016, EgyptAir Flight 804, en route from Paris to Cairo, crashed in the Mediterranean, killing all 66 passengers and crew. Western media immediately began speculating about the cause of the crash - whether it was due to mechanical failure, a terrorist attack, or pilot suicide. Official elements in Egypt were furious at the profusion of unconfirmed reports in Western media even prior to the launch of the investigation. For instance, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi said he was surprised at reports of smoke in the plane prior to the crash or of suicide by the pilot. He added sarcastically that perhaps space aliens had shot down the plane, and demanded a halt to all the theories until the results of the official investigation were released.[1]

Additionally, several Egyptian politicians and journalists were quick to blame various elements for the crash, namely the U.S., Britain, Turkey, and Israel. Some Egyptian writers claimed that the plane was downed as part of a "Satanic plot" by the West, aimed at damaging Egypt's stability, economy, and ties to other countries, leading ultimately to the country's collapse. Some claimed that the U.S. and Britain were behind the crash as well as behind other disasters that had struck Egypt over the past year, because, they argued, these two countries provide aid and support to terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Islamic State (ISIS), which target Egypt. Some blamed Israel, arguing that it had conducted aerial maneuvers near the crash site, while others accused Egypt's rival Turkey.

On the other hand, Egyptian journalist Dr. 'Omar Al-Shoubaki, vice president of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, published two articles rejecting claims of a global conspiracy against Egypt, claiming that Egyptians should stop believing in such theories as a way to excuse their failures, and should instead start trying to understand the true reasons for these failures. However, Al-Shoubaki himself theorized that such conspiracy theories serve the interests of the aircraft manufacturers, which do not want to talk about any mechanical failures of their aircraft.

Following are excerpts from various articles in the Egyptian press regarding the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804:


Egypt mourns EgyptAir Flight 804 (Makkah, Saudi Arabia, May 22, 2016)

U.S., Britain Support Terrorist Organizations That Carry Out Attacks On Their Behalf

Al-Ahram Columnist: The Plane Crash - Like Other Disasters That Have Struck Egypt - Is Made In The U.S. And U.K.

Mohammed Sabrin, a columnist for the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, argued that the string of recent crises in Egypt - including the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 in the Sinai in October 2015, the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, and the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 - were connected, and hinted that they were all carried out by terrorist groups that are mercenaries of the U.S. and Britain. He wrote: "Another disaster places Egypt in the eye of the storm, like some ongoing nightmare that weighs heavily on Egyptians' hearts - [from] the disaster of the Russian airliner [downed] over Sharm Al-Sheikh, through the death of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, and now with the crash of the Egyptian airliner arriving from Paris. Also, we obviously have the unending terrorism in Sinai and the wave of fires [recently taking place in Egypt]...

"What is happening on the ground is far removed from any emotion or morality, and is subordinate to the interests of countries and the industrial, military, and financial complex of the world's strongest superpower [i.e. the U.S.] and its subordinate - Britain. They do not know the meaning of compassion, even though they are good at expressing condolences, [while at the same time] carrying out despicable actions by means of agents. Those who do not wish to see the truth [should ask], who benefits? Would any reasonable person seek to harm tourism and drive a wedge between [Egypt] and Putin's Russia, Italy, France, and the Gulf states?...

"Indeed there is [an element] that insists that we reintegrate the MB into our political life, speaks of 'the greater Middle East,' and has been accused of interfering in South American nations such as Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere, and of fomenting coups using democratic tools and causing social upheaval. [This element] also has a long history of violent intervention in countries and regimes that were never communist but rather nationalist, and that merely wanted a small measure of national independence...

"In his famous book Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam, British researcher Mark Curtis revealed that British governments, whether Conservative or led by Labour, aspired to implement national interests outside [their borders], and therefore have spent decades secretly collaborating with the forces of radical Islam, including terrorist organizations... Curtis also states that the U.S. sponsored and nurtured Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda terrorist [group], and that there are currently many stories of signs that the U.S. and Turkey are sponsoring ISIS and its ilk...

"Is anyone asking what is behind this Western, and particularly British, embrace of the MB and its leaders and other extremist organizations - and did the term 'Londonistan' come out of nowhere?... And why do the Americans, and especially the British, insist on integrating the forces of political Islam into politics?!... We must not forget that these terrorist organizations have never, over many years, shied away from using violence and terrorism to achieve political goals that benefit their masters. Yes, they are mercenaries, fighting others' wars against their own homelands and peoples, as happened in Afghanistan..."[2]  

Egyptian Writer: U.S. Supports Terrorist Organizations In Order to Sow Chaos In The Arab Ummah - Particularly In Egypt

Wagdi Zein Al-Din, writing in Al-Wafd, also attacked the U.S. and accused it of sponsoring terrorist organizations and of being "behind all the plots." He wrote: "The American position regarding the airliner's explosion over the Mediterranean [possibly a reference to the CNN report that the pilot committed suicide] is not strange. I personally was not surprised by the U.S.'s foolish behavior on this matter, as many were. The reason is very simple: The terrorism currently afflicting the world is an American-Western product.

"Why does the U.S. support terror organizations? And what are its intentions in doing something this stupid? What does it stand to gain? All these and other questions have one answer: The American-Western plans regarding the Middle East are imperialist plans... and there are many traitors and conspirators who are facilitating this new imperialism, even offering themselves willingly [to this end,] like the MB. The new imperialist is taking advantage of this, on the pretense of the liberty, democracy, and human rights for which Third World countries yearn...

"Thus, it is no wonder that we see this shameful American position regarding the Egyptian airliner disaster. It is also no wonder that we are condemning Washington, because it created the extremist and terrorist organizations. Moreover, it is their chief supporter, with the aim of sowing chaos throughout the Arab ummah, particularly in Egypt, which has thwarted all satanic plans to divide it - whether by the U.S. and the West from without, and the terrorist MB from within... This is all the U.S. - expect nothing good from it, because how can good come [from it], when it is behind all the plots[?]...."[3]

Egyptian Journalists: Downing The Plane Is Part Of A Plot To Sabotage Egypt's International Relations

Many claimed that the crash was part of an international plot against Egypt. Egyptian MP Suleiman Wahdan said that "it is currently clear to the Egyptian public that there is a global plot against Egypt." Similarly, MP Khaled Youssef warned that "foreign tourist companies will use this disaster to cancel flights using the Egyptian airline" and thus "participate in the plot against the Egyptian economy."[4]

Some articles argued that there was a meticulous plan to harm Egypt's economic, military, and political ties with its allies, thus causing its ultimate collapse. Al-Watan columnist 'Imad Al-Din Adib wrote: "It is no accident that a criminal act was carried out against an EgyptAir jet that left the Paris airport. [This was done in order] to thwart the largest military-economic cooperation agreement between Egypt and France [that was signed] two weeks ago during a visit by President Hollande in Cairo. This is an attempt to harm Egypt's [foreign] relations and crumble all foundations of its might or stability in all fields. This is a policy of collapsing the home [i.e. Egypt] on top of the president, the government, the army, the police, and the people, at any cost..."

He added: "Are we [facing] a criminal plan to down EgyptAir jets or a devilish plan to topple the Egyptian regime? Are we [facing] a criminal plan to burn Egypt's sources of income, its homes, and the people living there, or a destructive plan to burn the [very essence] of the Egyptian state? This is a meticulous plan devoid of improvisation, meant to systematically thwart Egypt's regional and intentional ties, on which the June 30 Revolution regime [meaning the Al-Sisi regime] leans on.

"It is no accident that the calls to end the rule of 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi came following [the agreement] to return the two islands [of Sanafir and Tiran] to Saudi Arabia and it is no accident that the issue of the Italian student [Giulio Regeni] reemerged after ties between President Al-Sisi and the Italian prime minister developed, and after the Italian firm ENI announced [the discovery] of a gas field with 32 trillion square meters [of natural gas]. It is no accident that the Russian airliner blew up [over Sharm Al-Sheikh] after the understandings and strategic coordination carried out by presidents Putin and Al-Sisi and after the signing of large-scale military agreements..."[5]


Only a donkey would fail to see the conspiracy. Reading about the "crash of the Egyptian Airliner," the donkey says: "I don't see any conspiracy or [conspiracy] attempt" (parlmany.com, Mat 21, 2016)

Egyptian Journalist Warns: Germany Could Be Terrorists' Next Target Due To Agreements It Signed With Egypt

Similarly, Egyptian journalist and historian 'Abbas Al-Tarabili wrote in the daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm that there was a plot to harm Egypt's economic and military ties with other countries, chiefly Russia, Italy, and France. He even predicted that Germany could become the terrorists' next target due to its arms deals with Egypt. He wrote: "I do not rule out the possibility that the terrorists are planning to harm our relations with other countries, notably Germany, due to [German] tourism [in Egypt], and more importantly, due to the arms deals between Germany and Egypt, chiefly one to [supply] Dolphin-class submarines and other [weapons] to Egypt, [so that] Israel will not get ahead of us in this field. Here [is the place to also] mention the increase in German investments in Egypt and the Egyptians' positive attitude towards the German people, its industry, and its culture. Therefore it is crucial to warn against this..."[6]

Egyptian Historian: Turkey May Be Behind Downing Of Egyptian Airliner

In a separate column, 'Abbas Al-Tarabili suggested that Turkey might be behind the crash due to the historic animosity between the two countries and because Turkey, he said, is fertile ground for the activity of terrorist organizations, particularly the MB: "In any crime, logic dictates that you ask 'who benefits?' Events meant to destroy Egypt and blacken its name must prompt us to search for those who benefit from blows delivered to Egypt. First we must identify Egypt's current enemies, at least in the region. [We might say] that there is more than one benefactor, meaning more than [one] enemy - there is Israel, and Hamas, but what about Turkey?...

"Turkish hostility towards Egypt is thousands of years old... [The wave] of current Turkish animosity towards Egypt comes as part of attempts by the new Ottoman Sultan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to rebuild the Turkish empire. To that end, he helps anyone [considered] an enemy of Egypt, chiefly the MB, supports them, protects them, and enables them to operate against Egypt from Turkish soil... The events taking place in Egypt have one goal, which is to harm Egypt and all Egyptians. The minute we emerge from [one] crisis that they [the Turks] created, we find [ourselves] in [another] crisis that they created as well. Similarly, the downing of the Russian airliner over Sinai [was meant] to drive a wedge between Moscow and Cairo, and as we know, in its previous leg, that Russian airliner took off from a Turkish airport!!..."[7]

 

 
"Crash of the Egyptian Airliner." Fortune-teller to figure who represents Egypt: " The catastrophes that are befalling you will continue, but in the end there will be joy" (copts-united.com, May 21, 2016)

Egyptian Journalists, Politicians: Israel Downed The EgyptAir Jet

Egyptian Writer: Israel Held Aerial Maneuvers In Greek Airspace And Is Responsible For Downing The EgyptAir Jet

Several politicians and journalists blamed Israel for the crash. Former justice minister Ahmed Suleiman published a post on Facebook arguing that Israel downed the jet during aerial maneuvers it held in Greek airspace.[8] Journalist Sameh Al-Laboudi likewise implicated Israel and mentioned various details regarding its aerial maneuvers which, he said, prove a connection between the maneuver and the plane crash. He wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm: "There are numerous speculations regarding the circumstances in which Egypt[Air] flight 804 [crashed]. Did it crash or was it downed? However, the plane's crashing near the boundary between Greek and Egyptian territorial waters led to talk of a scenario in which the plane veered 90° to the left and then 360° to the right like a combat jet evading an approaching danger...

"The official declarations issued by Greece on the incident and its circumstances did not refer to the military air maneuvers that Israel had begun conducting south of Crete, [reports on which] were published this month. According to the NOTAM [Notice to Airmen published by the aviation authority in every country alerting pilots to potential hazards], the maneuvers by Israeli combat aircraft began on the night preceding the crash of the Egyptian plane, as part of the Israel Air Force's training program that utilizes Greek airspace near the Egyptian-Libyan border... A map of the area in which the maneuvers were held indicates that the Egyptian plane's flight path passed through it... The maneuver was supposed to start just as the Egyptian plane entered Greek airspace, and [the plane] vanished 27 minutes after the Israeli combat planes began [their] aerial maneuver.

"According to the OnAlert.gr website dealing with military affairs, the Greek authorities gave the dates of the military maneuver in a license whose serial number is NOTAM A0992/16, which allowed the Israeli planes freedom of action to conduct [their] military maneuvers in Greek airspace between May 18 and June 6... The OnAlert website also published a copy of the of A0992 flight plan, [issued by] the American Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] that is authorized to publish the NOTAM agenda. A Google search confirms that this notification [on the maneuver] appears on the American [FAA] website. However, an examination of the site following the Egyptian plane [crash] incident reveals that the [serial] number for the air control plan for Israeli maneuver A0992 was omitted, leaving only the timetables of the other [flight] plans A0991 and A0993..." [9]

Egyptian Journalists: Israeli Defense Minister Resigned Because He Opposed Downing The Jet

Egyptian media figure Muhammad Al-Muslimani also claimed that new findings suggest that Israel was responsible for the crash. He pointed to the Israeli aerial maneuvers that took place in Greek airspace near the airliner's flight path, and even added that some political analysts believe that the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon the following day was related to the affair: "Some analysts claimed that Ya'alon resigned because he opposed Israel's involvement in the downing of the Egyptian airliner and did not desire it. Others believe he was fired for failing to manage the military maneuvers in the Mediterranean that caused the crash of the airliner..."[10]

Political commentator Nabih Al-Wahsh also claimed that Israel was behind the crash, arguing that it had launched a missile that hit the plane, and that Defense Minister Ya'alon resigned in protest of the incident. Al-Wahsh called to kill Israelis in response to the incident. See MEMRI TV Clip #5481, Egyptian Political Commentator Al-Wahsh: Israel Behind Plane Crash, We Must Form Death Squads That Will Kill Israelis, Mutilate Their Bodies, May 20, 2016.

Egyptian Journalist Rejects Conspiracy Theories: West Not "Plotting To Destroy Us, But Rather Keeps Us Alive"

Dr. 'Omar Al-Shoubaki, vice president of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, published two articles in Al-Masri Al-Yawm rejecting the conspiracy theories surrounding the crash and claims of a global plot against Egypt. Al-Shoubaki also proposed his own theory, which is that aircraft manufacturers are to blame for a large portion of aerial crashes, but try to avoid responsibility due to political and business interests, instead blaming the airlines or maintenance crews. He claimed that this is also true of the EgyptAir crash, and that Egyptians should learn how to defend themselves in the global struggle of interests in a logical and professional manner instead of adopting conspiracy theories as they have become accustomed to doing. He wrote: "Aerial disasters have only two possible [causes]: the plane either crashed due to mechanical failure or due to a terrorist attack. But we [Egyptians] have... conspiracy theories and nonsense talk, [in addition] to the civil aviation minister, who proposed that space aliens attacked the plane. We also [heard] of the 'likely possibility' that this was a terrorist act, but no [talk of it being] a terrible disaster afflicting the victim's families and the state...

"The experience of the world's countries with the companies manufacturing aircraft is not good. These firms fight hard to disprove their guilt in any aerial incident. They always try to blame the pilots or the airline mechanics or airport maintenance crews, in order to deflect blame from themselves and preserve their sales... The EgyptAir jet that crashed was an Airbus 320, manufactured in France in July 2003 and added to the EgyptAir fleet in November of that year. We also know that this model is among those most plagued by accidents and mechanical failures. Furthermore, the manufacturer was often involved in legal and media battles meant to clear [its name] of allegations that the mechanical failures originated in its own factories...

"What occurred is not a global plot against us. Furthermore, France, which within a year has become Egypt's largest source of armament, has no interest in destroying Egypt or conspiring against it... The entire West is not preoccupied with us and plotting to destroy us, but rather keeps us alive and prevents us from becoming exporters of terrorism and refugees. Our struggle is not one against a fictional global plot, but rather against the interests of multinational corporations who wish to promote the theory that the plane crashed as a result of terrorism or suicide by the pilot... or as a result of a negligence on the part of the Egyptian maintenance crews - all in order to clear Airbus of culpability..."[11]

 
Various elements blame each other for the plane crash; each says "you are responsible" (Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt,  May 22, 2016)

In his second article, Al-Shoubaki added that the common practice of adopting conspiracy theories prevents Egyptians from grasping the true reasons behind their crises and failures: "We have grown used to turning to conspiracy theories after any accident or grand crisis, and repeat the same media and political discourse on how the world is conspiring against us and how we are the victims of unending global plots, even by our own allies...

"True, imperialism has conspired against us and others using many plots... But this is totally different from our claim that a global plot is behind the EgyptAir crash...

"[Our habit] of resorting to claims of an international plot after every accident or crisis in this immature and hurtful manner... only keeps us from discussing the true reasons [behind them] and dealing with the aspects of incompetence that caused them... Some repeat the global conspiracy theory without understanding or addressing the fact that there is a struggle of interests among many parties, and that our mission is to deal with this [struggle] in order to defend our own interests... Continuing to claim that there is some Western plot and talking nonsense, instead of acquiring tools to handle this international political, legal, and media conflict... indicates that we are on the wrong path.

"We need professional discourse and not just blanket statements, since recognizing the reasons for our failures and dealing with them is to our benefit, and not some plot against us. Screams [of outrage] and shrill voices will only lead us from one failure to the next, greater one..."[12] 

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 22, 2016; Al-Wafd (Egypt), May 24, 2016.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 22, 2016.

[3] Al-Wafd (Egypt), May 21, 2016.

[4] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 22, 2016; Al-Watan (Egypt), May 21, 2016.

[5] Al-Watan (Egypt), May 20, 2016.

[6] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 21, 2016.

[7] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 20, 2016.

[8] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 24, 2016.

[9] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 21, 2016.

[10] Rassd.com, May 26, 2016.

[11] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 24, 2016.

[12] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 25, 2016.