I've kept my journalistic distance from any further speculation about the provenance of the crash of the Russian airliner in the Sinai mountains last Saturday. I have not heretofore seen or read the slightest indication that there might be a hook for believing that a jihadist attack might be a possibility.
Until now - maybe:
A U.S. military infrared satellite detected a midair heat flash just before a Russian airliner went down on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board, CNN reports.
CBS notes that the data is still being analyzed to determine what caused the heat flash. One possibility is a bomb, but another possibility could be an explosion in a fuel tank or engine as the result of a mechanical failure.
Even though the Russians themselves have already ruled out mechanical failure as the cause of the crash. Which is what one would expect representatives of a Russian civilian aviation sector for whom mechanical failures are its trademark to say. But still, an incontrovertible heat flash limits the possible explanations, as do the reports that the Russian plane disintegrated - or "came apart" - in mid-air, which doesn't exactly suggest that all of its rivets came loose all at once.
Just yesterday on the Weather Channel's Air Disasters program they examined the 1980s-era crash of a Sudanese National Airlines jet moments after takeoff from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, that was caused by underinflated tires igniting on the runway and igniting the DC-8's fuel tanks after the landing gear had been retracted. Perhaps something similar happened in this instance, because otherwise, a bomb is starting to look more and more likely.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Tuesday that investigators have begun the examination of the two black boxes found after the crash in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
That will, hopefully, tell more of the tale than has been uncovered thus far.
More to undoubtedly come.