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Whatever doubts remained about the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai Peninsula were extinguished last month, when Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), told President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting: "We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act." A grim-faced Putin responded by pledging to "find and punish the perpetrators" of the atrocity, which killed 224 mostly Russian passengers and crew on 31 October.
Moscow had initially played down the possibility of a terrorism link, raising fears in the West that Putin might cover up the cause of the crash to deflect criticism of his military campaign in Syria. But as the body of evidence pointing to Islamic State (IS) involvement grew daily – comprising audio from the cockpit voice recorder, traces of explosives on the wreckage, intercepts of terrorist chatter, and claims of responsibility by IS – Russia shifted its narrative.
The Egyptian government now stands alone in denying evidence of an intentional act...