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Second Mid East Air Disaster: Russian-Made Cargo Plane Crash in S. Sudan Kills Dozens

By DEBKAfile

No cause has yet been established for the Russian-made Antonov Ant-12's crash-landing on the east bank of the Nile River 800 m short of Juba international airport in South Sudan Wednesday, Nov. 4. Its five-man crew were Russians. According to first reports some 40 people were killed both on board and on the ground, although there appear to be two survivors.

The Tajik Asia Airways crash-landed 800 meters from the runway of South Sudan's Juba international airport shortly after taking off . The An-12 was bound for Paloich in the Upper Nile region in the north. The cause of the crash is as yet unknown. The plane is 44 years old.

However, none of the 224 passengers and crew aboard the Metrojet Flight 9268 Airbus 321 survived the airliner's crash in central Sinai Saturday, Oct. 31, en route from their holiday in Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg.

Russian sources following the forensic examination of the bodies and partial remains of the victims flown to St. Petersburg report that they show evidence of an explosion in the plane before it plummeted to the ground. Further testing is required to establish the cause of the explosion.

A US infrared satellite detected a heat flash at the same time and same vicinity over Sinai where the Russian plane went down. A US defense official added that the same satellite would have been able to track the tell-tale heat trail of a missile from the ground. "The speculation that this plane was brought down by a missile is off the table," the official said. Another official said, "the plane disintegrated at a very high altitude."

The general consensus ahead of the Egyptian and Russian probes is that a sudden, catastrophic explosion caused the crash - whether from a bomb inside, "external impact" – as the Metrojet company claims - or from faulty fuel. Russian fuel experts found nothing wrong with the fuel.

An Egyptian physician who inspected the scene of the disaster found that one out of every five bodies he saw had been incinerated to death from a fire that may have started in the passenger's cabin and spread to the rest of the plane. Egyptian experts reported that "the large number of separate body fragments" could indicate that a strong explosion occurred onboard before the aircraft hit the ground. They were scattered across a radius of 8-10 square kilometers from the wreckage.

Russian and Egyptian sources tracking the examination of the two black boxes found evidence that the calamity occurred too rapidly for the pilots or crew to send an SOS or even say a few words. As the probe of the air catastrophe began, Moscow and Cairo were increasingly at odds on their findings. The Russians asserted that the plane must have broken up into two parts as a result of a strong explosion, whereas Egyptian officials remained intent on playing down the claim of responsibility for the crash published Saturday by the Sinai wing of the Islamic State. They criticize the Russians as rushing to conclusions ahead of the probe.

While neither the Egyptians or the Russians are willing to admit this, it is highly likely that the missile or explosives which brought down the Russian airliner Saturday came from Libya.

The British Prime Minister's office ordered a delay for flights due to leave Sharm el-Sheikh for Britain Wednesday night with British holiday makers aboard following intelligence that the Russian airliner was blown up Saturday by an explosive device.

And the latest U.S. intelligence suggests that the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 was most likely caused by a bomb on the plane planted by the Islamic State (ISIS) or an ISIS affiliate, an official familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday.

"There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane," the official said, stressing that no formal conclusion had been reached by the U.S. intelligence community. The assessment was reached, the official told CNN, by looking back at intelligence reports that had been gathered before Saturday's plane crash and intelligence gathered since then.

The United States did not have credible or verified intelligence of a specific threat before the crash. However, the official said, "there had been additional activity in Sinai that had caught our attention." Another official told CNN the intelligence regarding ISIS is in part based on monitoring of internal messages of the terrorist group. Those messages are separate from public ISIS claims of responsibility, that official said.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State group renewed its claim to have brought down the Metrojet A321 plane, challenging skeptics to prove otherwise. In an audio statement posted Wednesday on social media sites, the Islamic State said it would disclose details of the attack when it decides to.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has dismissed as "propaganda" claims by Islamic State insurgents they brought down the jetliner. "When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt," Sissi told the BBC, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said earlier this week that it was "unlikely" that Islamic State had the technical expertise to carry out such an attack, but said, "I wouldn't rule it out."

And also in Sinai. six Egyptian police officers were killed and scores of policemen and civilians were injured in an explosion caused by a bomb car driven by a suicide terrorist near the El Arish police station in northern Sinai early Wednesday. On Tuesday, President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sissi assured a BBC TV interviewer: Believe me, the situation in Sinai – especially in this limited area – is under our full control."

PA Names Football Tournament After Old City Murderer


Arab terrorist Muhammad Halabi, who murdered two Israelis and wounded the wife and two-year-old son of one of them in a stabbing in Jerusalem's Old City in early October, is being given full hero treatment by the Palestinian Authority.

The official PA daily announced on Monday that the Yasir Arafat Youth Center in Jenina, Samaria, has named a soccer tournament after the terrorist murderer, as revealed and translated by Palestinian Media Watch. Under the headline "Bal'a Club wins the Martyr Halabi cup for football," the paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida revealed how the murderer is being lionized for young Arabs.

"The Martyr Yasir Arafat Youth Center (Al-Attara - Jenin) succeeded in organizing the first football tournament named after martyr Muhammad Halabi, which took place on its football fields. The final game was played by the Yasir Arafat Youth Center and Bal'a, which rightly won the title."

The newest gesture is just one of many the PA has made to honor the murderer. Last month, the PA city of Surda-Abu Qash named a street after him, with the mayor saying, "this is the least we can do for martyr Halabi." PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction even brought soil from the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount to Halabi's grave, and the PA Bar Association granted him an honorary law degree. Several parents in Gaza named their newborn son after him.

In the attack, which took place on October 3, 19-year-old Halabi attacked 21-year-old Aharon Bennet along with his wife and 2-year-old son as they were on their way back from praying at the Kotel (Western Wall). Bennett was murdered, as was Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, who rushed to save the young family but was in turn ambushed by the terrorist, who then grabbed his gun and fired at approaching police, who shot him dead in return.

Israel Returns Body of Terrorist, Palestinians Allege Organ Harvesting


Israel returned the body of Ibrahim Saqafi to the Palestinians on Wednesday evening. Saqafi, a Hebron resident, had carried out a vehicular attack near Halhul earlier on Wednesday that left a Border Police officer critically wounded. The return of Saqafi's body came in spite of Israel's earlier decision to delay returning terrorists' bodies to the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority representative at the United Nations claimed that other bodies which had been transferred to them "were returned with organs missing, after the occupying forces harvested organs from the Palestinian victims."

Saqafi's body was handed over to the Palestinians at Tarqumia checkpoint and from there taken to Hebron. The funeral is to take place on Thursday afternoon, also contradicting Israel's stipulation that it would only return terrorists' bodies on the condition that the Palestinians do not organize mass funerals for them.

The decision not to return bodies was taken after the government was criticized by the Israeli public for giving back the bodies of terrorists that had committed attacks during the current wave of violence. Mass funerals were held for the terrorists and an official ceremony was held for them at the Hebron Muqataa.

Because of Palestinian intransigence regarding the condition placed by Israel, Israel suspended the return of five terrorists' bodies to their families in Hebron. But Israeli officials decided to return the body of the terrorist who committed the car attack on Wednesday, even though he was not a resident of Hebron and although his funeral is to take place during the day. A Border Police officer was critically wounded in the car attack.

Hebron has in the last two weeks been the site of a major public campaign urging the return of all bodies of terrorists who lived in Hebron that are in Israeli hands. The highest number of terrorists from the West Bank in the latest escalation comes from the Hebron area. The campaign is enhanced by demonstrations held every few days, which quickly escalate into clashes with security forces.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at the Knesset on Wednesday that holding the bodies does not deter potential terrorists, "in contrast to house demolitions or revoking residency, for which we have proof that they are deterrent measures."

Ya'alon explained that the question was being decided on a case-by-case basis. Bodies are to be returned, he said, as long as a quiet, modest funeral is ensured. "The policy is consistent and reasoned in accordance with ethical and security considerations," added Ya'alon.

Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour submitted a formal complaint against Israel on Wednesday, alleging that it had returned terrorists' bodies with organs missing. "A medical examination conducted on bodies of Palestinians returned after they were killed by the occupying power found that they were missing organs," Mansour claimed in the letter.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon wrote a letter in response to the UN Secretary General, stating that "the Palestinian representative's anti-Semitic face has been revealed" and that the allegation was "blood libel". Danon urged the UN to sharply condemn "the Palestinian representative's inflammatory statements and remove anti-Semitism from the hallways of the United Nations."

The terrorist attack in Hebron came after a quiet day, and security officials have said they believe the terrorism wave is abating. In addition to removing some checkpoints inside Jerusalem this week, a reduction in the amount of soldiers in Jerusalem neighborhoods has begun.

In the next few days, about 300 Border Police fighters who were called up for reserve duty will be released. This comes on the heels of many regular Border Police fighters returning to their regular postings, after they were recently sent reinforce security in the city.

Iran Shutters First KFC for 'Being Too American'


A fake Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant in Iran was shuttered within 24 hours of opening on Tuesday, after Iran mistakenly linked the branch to the American franchise. The Hallal KFC branch in Tehran had apparently passed approval from the Iranian Ministry of Industry, Trade and Mines before opening, and social media showed dozens of eager Iranians lining up outside the door.

However, less than one day later, Tehran shuttered the store, claiming first that it was "too American." The store "can be seen as a part of American influence into Iranian culture," Iranian police stated. "The U.S. is one of Iran's major enemies and this will have grave dangers for the country."

Abbas Pazuki, the Hallal KFC's Tehran branch manager, told the Tasnim news agency Tuesday that the "misunderstanding" remained over branding; the KFC is part of the Hallel KFC franchise in Turkey, which "comes from Turkey. It belongs to Muslims and its target market is Muslim nations." Later, police backtracked and said that the KFC was operating without a license.

Meanwhile, representatives of the American KFC stated they were "in shock" at the news. "No franchise rights have been granted to any party in Iran," KFC spokesperson Laurie Schalow told Mashable. "We are in contact with local authorities and external advisers and will be filing a legal action against any company or individuals claiming to have rights to open KFC."

The Hassidic Rap That Went Viral


A music video by Hassidic artist Chaim Shlomo Mayes has gone viral, challenging stereotypes about the Hassidic community in the process. See

The song is called "Bas Kol," the Talmudic term for a "Heavenly Voice," and - somewhat uniquely in a music field usually dominated by klezmer anthems - features Mayes rapping to the tune of Fifth Harmony's hip hop track "Worth It." The video is set in a haredi wedding, and also features some seriously un-Hassidic dance moves.

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