The EgyptAir flight that crashed last week had ominous graffiti scrawled on it two years before it went down, a report has claimed.
The New York Times reported that so-called political vandals wrote in Arabic on its belly, “We will bring this plane down.” The threatening graffiti was the work of aviation workers at the Cairo Airport, and some of the workers also wrote “traitor” and “murderer” to reference Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi one year after he took power in a coup. They wrote the insults, “playing on the phonetic similarity between the last two letters in the plane’s registration, SU-GCC, and the surname of Egypt’s president,” the paper said.
The Times interviewed officials speaking on condition of anonymity, who said the writing was linked to the county’s domestic Egyptian political situation rather than a terrorist threat. Similar threats against Sisi were found in graffiti after he ousted President Mohamed Morsi and went after members of his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
They believe the graffiti was nothing more than a coincidence, the Times reported. The officials did not specify who found the graffiti.
The three in-flight security officers, Walid Ouda, Mohammed Farag, and Mahmoud el Sayed, were on flight MS804 when it went down, according to The Times. However, they had no criminal history or record of any suspicious behavior.
Egyptian officials suspect terrorism was involved in the plane crash, but they have not ruled out other causes. No jihadist groups—including the Islamic State or al-Qaeda—have come forward to claim responsibility.
Meanwhile, the plane “did not swerve” or lose altitude before it disappeared from the radar, Egypt’s state-run provider of air navigation services claimed on Monday. Ehab Azmy, head of the National Air Navigation Services Company, said the plane was flying at its normal altitude of 37,000 feet, according to a radar reading.
He said, “That fact degrades what the Greeks are saying about aircraft suddenly losing altitude before it vanished from radar,” reported Al Jazeera.
Panos Kammenos, the Greek defense minister, said the plane dropped 10,000 feet before it fell off the radar.
The plane disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea with 66 people on board. It was heading from Paris to Cairo.
Officials recovered some personal belongings, life vests, aircraft chairs, human remains, and other items, but the majority of the plane’s wreckage hasn’t been discovered.
Searchers are also looking for the flight’s black boxes, which contain the crucial flight data and cockpit voice recorders.
On Saturday, French aviation officials said an automated system on board the flight sent messages about there being smoke in the plane’s bathroom before it crashed into the sea.
The data, from the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, indicated that smoke alarms went off near the cockpit just minutes before the crash.