Islamic State releases photograph of bomb that brought down Russian airliner


Just one day after Russian officials confirmed that an improvised explosive device (IED) brought down Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Egyptian Sinai on Oct. 31, the Islamic State released an image of what it claims is the bomb that brought down the airliner.

The Islamic State released a photograph of the bomb (above, right) as well as what it claims are images of passports of Russians who were killed in the explosion and subsequent crash, in issue number 12 of its English language magazine, Dabiq. All 224 passengers and crew were killed in the attack.

The photograph of the IED is captioned “EXCLUSIVE: Image of the IED used to bring down the Russian airliner.” The Russian passports, which are superimposed on wreckage of the airliner, appears to have been taken from a news agency. It is unclear how the Islamic State would obtain passports from the crash scene, which was heavily guarded.

The bomb appears simple in design: a soda can, presumably packed with explosives, a detonator, and an electronic trigger. The nature of the explosives and trigger device was not disclosed by the Islamic State. Yesterday, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said that the bomb had a “capacity” equivalent “of up to 1 kg [2.2. pounds] of TNT.”

The Islamic State’s so-called Sinai “province” issued a claim of responsibility hours after the airliner crashed. The Islamic State and its Sinai “branch” have repeated that claim several times since then.

The accompanying article did not detail the nature of the IED, but instead justified the airline bombing as well as the Nov. 13 suicide assault in Paris, France, that killed 129 people. The Islamic State said the attacks were to avenge Russian and Syrian airstrikes against the group in Syria.

“The divided crusaders of the East and West thought themselves safe in their jets as they cowardly bombarded the Muslims of the Khilāfah,” or the “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State is based.

“But Allah decreed that punishment befall the warring crusaders from where they had not expected,” the article continued. “Thus, the blessed attacks against the Russians and the French were successfully executed despite the international intelligence war against the Islamic State. Both crusader nations had undoubtedly destroyed their homes with their own hands through their hostilities towards Islam, the Muslims, and the Muslim body of the Khilāfah.”

The Islamic State claimed that after penetrating security at the airport in Sharm el Sheikh, it planned on bringing down an airliner from a Western country, but then shifted its focus on a Russian aircraft.

“And so after having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against the Islamic State, the target was changed to a Russian plane,” the article claimed. “A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia’s thoughtless decision” to conduct airstrikes in Syria.

The Islamic State then threatened further attacks on the West, and said that the recent attack in Paris and against the Russian airliner is merely the beginning.

“Muslims today have a loud, thundering statement, and possess heavy boots. They will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism, and boots that will trample the idol of nationalism, destroy the idol of democracy, and uncover its deviant nature.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • rtloder says:

    Anybody got any ideas regarding the day after, I mean it would have been credible the day before, the day after implies the fool is making a mockery of himself again.

  • Allin Gray says:

    I am interested in hearing opinions as to the likelihood of this being misinformation on the part of ISIS.

  • Arjuna says:

    I wish they were fools. Besides the opinions of bomb techs who say this is a crude but viable design, my strong opinion is that ISIS gains much by being credible. It follows through on its threats and warnings and to my mind has never taken credit for an op that wasn’t theirs. I think they took the pic pre-Airbus and it just took awhile to get the Dabiq issue made up in Syria and released online.

  • Myrddin says:


    I am only playing internet CSI here, but I too wonder if this isn’t some red herring from ISIS to get security looking in the wrong direction for other bombs ?

    So there is a container ( the can), a detonator and a switch.

    If there is no timer or pressure switch – and I am not good at electronics, so I can’t tell if the switch has more to it than just ‘on/off’ – than somehow someone would have had to hit ‘on’ to detonate.

    If it was this, it must have been rigged in the galley or toilets against a door – how would a trigger bomb go off by itself in the baggage bay ?

    Happy to stand corrected, but I suspect ISIS are playing with us here and want everyone to be looking at soft drink cans.

    For my part, and looking at the famous initial photos were people pointed out the metal pressed outwards around the tail area, I continue to suspect something like a pressure-sensitive bomb designed to go off when cruising altitude was attained, but before food service began.

    Suggesting, the service trolleys in the rear galley or something planted by a cleaner in a rear toilet.

    The Egyptian luggage handlers are probably being sweated hard by the authorities, but the whole chain of supply and delivery of food trolleys and toilet servicing needs a hard look at – IMHO.

  • Dan says:

    Propagating information claiming any successful event is not uncommon for all jihadist groups. IS does not do this exclusively. If a Taliban event occurs in Afghanistan that results in many Afghan civilian deaths they are usually loathe to claim responsibility and at times have heavily refuted any part.
    We will know more as more information washes out. Only the timing of IS’ claims are suspicious. The group does have the capability to conduct such an attack, especially it’s Wilyat Sinai faction whom have already demonstrated adroitness in other complex events.

  • Dan says:

    The data – or at least, publicised data – from the black box suggests it was an IED, not a catastrophic structural/mechanical failure.
    The “on/off” switch could have been switched on prior to boarding and loaded into the cargo hold using some form of barometric device to detonate it at altitude.
    Again, as more information washes out we will be able to eliminate other possible causes but right now, this seems the most likely.

  • irebukeu says:

    This is still the day before. To predict a plane crash has to be done BEFORE the plane crashes. To show a picture of the device only has to be done before the announcement of the device. To my knowledge there has been no mention of the way the bomb was concealed.
    This is probably the bomb that brought down the plane. If so, they will find aluminum residue in everything that was around the bomb when it went off.


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