Does it matter if ISIS really shot down the Russian plane?

Published: November 3, 2015

The international media spent much of the last couple of days mulling the question of whether Kogalymavia Flight 9268 crashed or was shot down by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over the skies of Sinai, Egypt.

The truth is, in many ways it really does not matter.

ISIS did the damage when its Sinai branch Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the crash and the deaths of 224 people, even producing a video supposedly of the murderous act of terror.

That got the tongues wagging – almost to the extent that the enormous loss of life became a sub-plot. Headlines the world over focused on the ISIS whodunit:

Could they?

Couldn’t they?

But that debate no longer matters – Lufthansa and Air France immediately announced they would no longer fly over Sinai airspace.

ISIS’s public-relations war, its scare tactics and the paranoia it has instilled in many of us are all moral victories for this tiny army of rag-tag volunteers from around the globe.

And here I am, guilty as charged, a day later, still talking about the ISIS and its possible role in the fate of Flight 9268.

The only potential benefit in this instance is that ISIS is messing with Russia – not some Western government that may put “human rights” ahead of the war on terror. Moscow could well see this as a red flag to a bull – ignoring the truth of whether ISIS was or was not behind this, preferring to use it as a pretext to (properly) attack ISIS in Syria, where it challenges Russia’s partner President Bashar al-Assad.

Sometimes we have to play the enemy at their own game and defeat them. Sometimes we have to hope the Russians will do the dirty work for us.

This post originally appeared here

David Harris

David Harris

The author is a British journalist who has covered the Middle East and the Muslim World for 20 years. He is the editor in chief of Clarion Project. He tweets as @DavidZevHarris (

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