`Bullet holes' found in cockpit - jet that crashed into the Black Sea

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`Bullet holes' found in cockpit

(Filed: 05/10/2001)

THREE holes, thought to have been made by bullets, were discovered in a fragment of the cockpit of the Russian Tu-154 jet that crashed into the Black Sea, according to rescuers.

The captain of a dry cargo carrier involved in the rescue reported this to the transportation ministry, the Interfax news agency has reported.

The investigation has focused on whether the plane was a victim of a terrorist attack. Other unconfirmed reports said the Sibir Air jet was accidentally shot down during military exercises in Ukraine.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 05, 2001

Answers

Mighty suspicious.

-- Uncle Fred (dogboy45@bigfoot.com), October 05, 2001.

Mighty good shots, those Ukrainians...to be hitting a jet plane at 36,000 feet with plain old bullets! my my.

-- NUMBER SIX (iam_not_a_number@hotmail.com), October 07, 2001.

here's an article I found at bearforum. Don't know where it originally was published, but it sounds like Israel.

The unspeakable scenario of Siberian 1812 By Reuven Koret October 5, 2001

Round up the usual suspects for a most unusual air "incident": technical failure, a bomb on board, a misguided Ukrainian training missile. These are the three scenarios currently being considered by the mainstream media as possible causes for the crash of Siberian 1812, bound from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk on the morning of October 4, 2001.

Former Israeli Air Force commander Gen. (Res.) Avihu Bin-Nun, interviewed on Israeli television, suggested that those three scenarios were not the only possible ones and that the actual cause might turn out to be something altogether different. He spoke as if he suspected something he wasn't saying. In any case, no mainstream sources have yet to raise those other scenarios, including possibilities involving hijackings and intentional shoot-downs that are, after September 11, far from far-fetched. Even if the Bush Administration said that it has found "no evidence of terrorism," that is what many Israelis, Ukrainians, and Russians are talking about today.

Ten puzzling pieces

Consider the evidence that we have, twenty-four hours after the crash:

1. Technical failure can be safely ruled out. The Tupolev 154 is an old model, and as recently as this July, one crashed in Siberia. But this particular craft was only ten years old. And if the Pentagon insists that a missile hit the jet, this is verifiable and there must be a reason for the claim. Jet planes very rarely explode in mid-air.

2. The flight was from Israel--the overwhelming majority of the passengers were Jewish Israelis--mostly Russian immigrants: an Arab terrorist's dream-target. The same demographic was the reason the Palestinian suicide bomber exploded himself in a disco for young Russian immigrants, 20 of whom he killed.

3. The inherent attractiveness of the target to an Arab attacker is magnified at this moment, with an American attempt to keep Israel out of the way, matched by the desire to punish Russia for joining the anti-terror coalition. What a coincidence that just this plane at just this time happened to be hit by an errant missile!

4. An Armenian plane was in the same location, a couple of miles below. It is unlikely that both planes were in a forbidden military zone. Israel Radio reported today that Russian investigators said the Ukrainian Army had been in contact with the plane and had assured its pilot that no missiles would be launched along its flight path. The plane's crew thus knew about the Ukrainian maneuvers and also believed they were in no danger.

5. Israeli TV cited an Interfax report, unconfirmed, that Siberian Air had received a terrorist threat in recent days and had beefed up its security in response.

6. The flight left from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, with its deserved reputation for high security. A bomb would be unlikely to get through the Israeli inspection regimen. But it was a charter flight, with a Russian flight crew, so it may have lacked security features characteristic of El Al, including, sources say, onboard "flight marshals."

7. For many hours after the "missile theory" was advanced, Israeli authorities prevented take-offs and rechecked each passenger and each bag. They took the terror scenario seriously and weren't rushing to buy the misguided missile theory.

8. Sources report that the plane flew far west of its usual flight path. Siberian Air officials reportedly expressed astonishment when they saw its location.

9. The Ukrainians, with Russian monitors, indeed were staging war games including live anti-aircraft fire in the Crimean peninsula. But the exercise was on the other side of the Black Sea, more than 150 miles from where the plane was hit. There are conflicting reports from U.S. defense sources over the type of missiles fired. SA-5s and SA-2000s have ranges that could possibly reach the jet. One Ukrainian officer claimed the missiles had a range of some 250 miles. But each missile has control and self-destruct mechanisms that could have been activated to avoid hitting a commercial jet so far away.

10. The Ukrainians deny blame. A senior Defense Ministry spokesman said that "neither the direction nor the range correspond to the practical or theoretical point at which the plane exploded. So the Ukrainian military has no involvement in this accident." The sources said each missile fired was fully accounted for. Russian President Putin, whose forces were supervising the exercise, backed the view that the Ukrainian missile used, technically lacked the range and was firing in a different direction. He continues to stress terror, and the official Russian investigation is taking this assumption as its starting point.

Following the con-trail

The Pentagon claim of a misguided missile was anonymous, and leaked within hours of the crash. The rush to judgment by an unnamed defense source was unusual. Moreover, the source quoted by CBS correspondent David Martin (who broke the initial missile claim) reported two separate facts. (1) The U.S. satellite system detected a missile launch at around the same time as the plane went down, and (2) the Ukrainians were training with surface to air missiles.

Did the Pentagon ever claim that the SAM launch came from the site of the Ukrainian exercise? Or was that merely a conclusion we were supposed to draw? Indeed, the initial Martin report suggested that terrorists may have fired the missile, and the launch location was not identified as the site of the Ukrainian exercise.

So we are left with two basic scenarios: either (1) a bomb exploded in mid-air and the Pentagon wants us to believe that it was a Ukrainian missile, or (2) a missile hit the jet, and either the Russians/Ukrainians or the Americans are trying to cover up its source.

Motives for disinformation

Moscow or Kiev might have a motive to obscure gross negligence or subversion within top-secret anti-aircraft forces, but it is unlikely they would dare to expose themselves to contradiction by American satellite evidence. A cover-up would stand no chance of holding up, given the large number of military personnel who would know the facts.

Clearly, the United States has a strong motive to obfuscate a terrorist link, whether by making a bombing appear to be a training mistake, or by diverting attention from the actual source of the missile that hit the jet.

To admit that a terrorist bombed a flight from Israel, with mostly Israeli passengers, would thrust Israel front and center as a co- victim of the same kind of global terror, and likely the same terror group, that the United States seeks to confront. Israel and the U.S. would be in the same boat at a time when America is desperately seeking to distance itself from the Jewish state to appease and entice would-be Arab coalition partners.

The need for concealment would be even stronger if terrorist forces managed to hit the plane with a missile, as some have suspected in the case of TWA 800. In that case, U.S. officials strove mightily to discount and suppress claims that the jet may have been hit by a missile, despite the large body of evidence and eyewitness reports to the contrary.

Hidden in plain sight

Most problematic is the scenario in which Siberian 1812 was commandeered and diverted, either by a passenger or passengers in the manner of the recent attacks on New York and Washington, or by a pilot or crew member, as was likely the case in the crash of EgyptAir 990. If either the U.S. (with extensive bases in Turkey and the surrounding region), Russian or Ukrainian forces suspected the jet was controlled by a terrorist (because it was off-course, turned off its radar, failed to respond to calls, etc.), they may have decided that it posed an unacceptable risk to military forces or civilian populations.

The scenario should hardly come as a shock after September 11th. The U.S. has just authorized a shoot-down policy in just such cases, and forces in region are on highest alert for just such an eventuality. A former member of a top secret Ukrainian anti-aircraft unit, now an Israeli citizen, was quoted in Yediot Ahronot today as saying that, even in the eighties, his comrades had hair-trigger sensitivity to potential hostile incoming aircraft. He said that one unanswered call from an incoming craft was grounds for a shoot-down. Official policy was never to report such "accidents."

If Siberian 1812 was hijacked or diverted by terrorists, and then shot down intentionally, that would explain much: why it was off- course, why a "misguided missile" was not destroyed, why the Americans moved so quickly to claim it was a "training mistake"-and why the Russians and Ukrainians denied the blame and continue to favor the terrorism angle. To admit a shoot-down of a Russian jet with Israelis aboard would be to invite complications that would sidetrack if not derail war preparations. The parties involved would have reasons aplenty to cover up the truth.

After just a day, the story already has fallen far from the global headlines. We may never find out for certain what brought down Siberian 1812. The black boxes may be irretrievable, although crash investigators have recovered most of the plane's cockpit and have found several suspicious holes in the fuselage that require expert examination. The latest report from the captain of a vessel involved in the rescue operation identified what appeared to be "bullet holes" in a recovered fragment of the cockpit. While satellite imagery, and electronic communications may be available, the Americans, Russians and Ukrainians may have motives to hide the whole truth.

The Israeli imperative

It is impossible to separate this "incident" from the current strategic geopolitical context in which Israel is enmeshed. The death of Israelis in a massive terrorist act would be terribly inconvenient for some nations. There is a coordinated international effort to distinguish (understandable) attacks against Israel from (unacceptable) terrorism against other nations. Evidence that points to anti-Israeli terrorism by the "bad terrorists" or Israel anti- terrorism against the "good terrorists" is terribly inconvenient. Some would prefer that Israel shut up, take the blows, accept the disinformation, and sacrifice itself and its citizens for the "greater good." But to conceal, diminish or rationalize terrorism is to become an accomplice to the terrorists.

We may never know whether Israeli intelligence about what really happened to Siberian 1812 contributed to the fury of Ariel Sharon's dramatic "declaration of independence" from external constraints on Israel's war against terrorism. Yet it is our nation's sacred obligation to its fallen citizens to demand inclusion as an integral participant in the investigation of the crash, and to be accorded full access to all evidence. Whatever scenario eventually proves true, for Israel to do otherwise would be truly unspeakable.



-- number six (!@!.com), October 07, 2001.


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