Official Moscow ascribed the crash of the Aeroflot Boeing 737 in Perm, in the Ural Mountains, on Sept. 14, killing all 88 aboard, to a “technical malfunction.”
As in the West, the Russians rarely publish the cause of an air disaster even after an inquiry. Russia’s lead investigator Alexander Bastrykin said the failure was caused by “a fire in the right engine.” Russia’s transport minister, Igor Levitin, said he had no information to suggest the cause of the crash was terrorism, or that the plane had exploded in mid-air.
However, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources in Moscow report that the facts reported by the Perm control tower’s staff and witnesses who saw the plane exploding tell a different story.
The key testimony came from Irek Bikbov, the Perm flight controller who guided the plane in to land. He said the plane climbed when it should have dropped altitude and veered left instead of right.
He was quoted by the Russian Interfax news agency as telling the pilot that he was gaining altitude, to which the pilot replied: “Confirmed, but we are descending.”
When the Boeing reached 1,200 meters, Bibkov said he gave instructions for a third turnaround and “the crew accepted the instructions but failed to act on them”
Again, said Bibkov, “I gave him the course to turn right and (he) veered left. I asked him: ‘Are you all right?’ He said: ‘Affirmative.'”
The Perm flight controller smelled a rat
Bibkov added: “It is possible that something was going on and he did not want to tell.”
After handing over to another controller, he noticed the plane was losing height rapidly and then the crash occurred. It came down on the outskirts of Perm, just a few hundred meters from residential buildings, but no one was hurt on the ground.
Our sources note that this strange piece of dialogue indicates that the flight controller and pilot were at cross-purposes, raising the suspicion that the flight crew aboard the doomed plane had been replaced by an alien party, which seized the cockpit and blew the plane up instead of bringing it in to land.
The Russian statement revealed one reason why the Aeroflot flight from Moscow might have been targeted by terrorists.
One of the passengers aboard was Gen. Gennadiy Troshev, who led the Russian forces in the key battles that quelled the Chechen revolt. He was also a close friend of prime minister Vladimir Putin. The general and Russian intelligence knew that Chechen cells had been after him for some time.
But there was another possible motive for an attack, one which Moscow did not disclose.
Traveling on the flight was a group of eight prominent Russian nuclear physicists who were on their way to a secret nuclear installation near Perm.
Fishy Egyptian 1999 air crash in Atlantic recalled
Air terror experts who listened to the dialogue between the cockpit and the flight controller were reminded of Egyptian Airlines flight 767 which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near Boston on Oct. 31, 1999, killing all 277 passengers and crew.
Then too, the pilot, later identified as Gemal al-Batouti, climbed instead of dropping and veered left instead of right.
The black box recorded him as shouting in his last moments: “Tawakult ala aallah (I put my trust in God)!”
The Russians are not in the habit of releasing black box contents in air disasters.
There was another significant contradiction between the official version and the witnesses.
The Aeroflot airplane was described officially as having caught fire as it touched the ground. The Perm control tower controllers reported that when it rose to 1,200 meters (instead of descending), its blip suddenly disappeared from their radar screens and its wireless went dead at the same moment.
A local witness added his impressions:
He said: “I felt an explosion – I felt as it threw me up from bed maybe half a meter up. Then my daughter ran in from the next room crying: ‘Has a war begun or what?'”
He went on to report what his neighbor told him: “As it started burning in the air, it looked like a comet, a burning comet. It hit the ground opposite the next house. There was a blaze, like fireworks. It lit the whole sky, the blaze.”
All this evidence of a mid-air explosion is hard to dismiss.