Two passengers on Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 passengers, had ties to an Islamic terrorist cell, the New York Post reports.
In what may or may not be a coincidence, the names of two Muslims aboard the doomed flight match those of individuals authorities had been monitoring as possible terror threats to France.
A French source calls the find "highly significant." The French equivalent of the CIA established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the flight from Rio de Janeiro to France on May 31, the Paris weekly L'Express reported.
Just days before Flight 447 disappeared over the mid-Atlantic, an Air France flight from Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires to Paris was delayed after Air France received a bomb threat over the phone.
According to Momento24.com, airport security and the Argentine Federal Police inspected the plane for about an hour and a half but found no evidence of any potential foul play and released the flight without having to evacuate the plane, sources of the airport reported.
It has been reported that Flight 447 had a series of electronic malfunctions before disappearing into the Atlantic, but authorities do not know what may have caused the early morning flight to disappear without so much as a call from the pilot.
Initial theories were that violent storms downed the plane, but terrorism has not been ruled out.
Remnants of Flight 447 have been pulled from the ocean since its disappearance, but the airbus’s black box, along with other important aircraft data, probably is at the bottom of the Atlantic in waters that are nearly 20,000 feet deep.
Argentina and Brazil share a long border that authorities say is a fundraising haven for Islamic extremists.
As news of the fatal crash broke, French security agents were dispatched to Brazil, the Post reported.
French authorities reportedly are looking into the dates of birth and family connections for the two Muslim passengers aboard Flight 447, as well as any other significant connections they might have had to tie them to Islamic terrorist groups that have made numerous threats since French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan.
Tuesday, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said an explosion over the mid-Atlantic was unlikely because oil stains were found among the ocean debris. It is more likely that the plane broke apart in the air, Jobim said.
According to a report from Sky News, the fuel would have burned away if a bomb had exploded on the plane.
“The existence of oil stains could exclude the possibility of a fire or explosion,” Jobim said at a news conference in Brazil. “If we have oil stains, it means it wasn't burned.”
According to Sky News, “Aviation experts said the vast area over which debris has been found suggested there was an in-flight explosion, but that did not mean a bomb had to be the cause.”
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