January 10, 2020 6:29 PM   Subscribe

It was still dark when Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 took off on Wednesday from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport. Onboard were 176 people. Most were returning home after holidays spent with families and friends in Iran. They were couples, newlyweds, students.

At 6.15am the system picked up something ominous: the unmistakable heat signature of missiles freshly launched.

An Iranian garrison on the ground, due west of the airport, appears to have mistaken the plane for a hostile American object. According to US officials, an Iranian anti-aircraft battery unleashed two Russian-made missiles. The US satellites recorded an infrared blip: an explosion.

The results were immediate and catastrophic.

The Passengers (Globe and Mail)
Several were students and professors returning to school after winter break. Others were dentists, doctors, newlyweds, engineers and architects. About a dozen were children.

Canada's victims of Flight PS752: One hundred and thirty-eight of the people killed on the Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran were connecting to Canada. (CBC)

A devastating loss rips through Canada’s academic community in wake of Flight 752 tragedy (Globe and Mail)

Video Apparently Showing Flight PS752 Missile Strike Geolocated to Iranian Suburb (Bellingcat)

Video Shows Ukrainian Plane Being Hit Over Iran: The New York Times has obtained video of the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit minutes after takeoff from Tehran. (NY Times)

How open-source investigators quickly identified Iran’s likely role in the crash of Flight 752 (Washington Post)

A visual guide to the Iran plane crash (The Guardian)
posted by Ahmad Khani (62 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Ukrainian flight PS752 crashes shortly after take off from Tehran (Flightradar)
Update 9 January — The Iranian Civil Aviation Organization has released an initial report on the crash. According to the report the aircraft climbed to 8000 feet and turned right back toward the airport and crashed at 06:18 local time (02:48 UTC)—four minutes after the last ADS-B signal was received by the Flightradar24 network.

The report also states, ‘The rescue and search operation team found the Aircraft black boxes, including the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and is currently held by the investigation team of Iran AAIB. Both devices have been damaged as a result of the accident and catching fire. The memory parts of both recorders are in good conditions, though the physical damage to their main components is noticeable.’

You can read the full preliminary report (translated to English) here.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 6:34 PM on January 10, 2020

Aviation Herald article with further detail, including detail on the 9K332 MANPADS that I have not seen elsewhere.

Specifically: "[9K332] System itself has built in functionality when in specific config it will automatically pick up incoming target (as a protection against cruise missiles) point that direction, enable autotracking for target, enables fine tracking for target, sound the alarm and only thing needed is just push the button".

On the 9K330/9K331/9K332:
The total reaction time of the Tor-M1 SAM system changes from 3.4 to 10.6 s, depending on the employment conditions and intensity of interference. When employed on the move, the two seconds required to stop the CV are added to this time. It should be stressed that the high degree of battle performance automation, employment of artificial intellect and unique algorithms make it possible to perform all the operations, involving detection of targets and the switch to autotracking the two most dangerous ones, virtually without operator intervention.
It's a hair-trigger sort of weapon.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:46 PM on January 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

Nothing in your link about any abort capability, either.
posted by ocschwar at 6:51 PM on January 10, 2020

There are no words, only grief and regret.

This reminds me of several other incidents where passenger jets where shot down, including when we shot down Iran Air Flight 655. Here's an old Vox article on accidental shoot-downs.
posted by Trifling at 6:53 PM on January 10, 2020 [8 favorites]

Thank you for making this post. I worry about how afraid they must all have been (as a nervous flier myself).

posted by sallybrown at 6:54 PM on January 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yes, this has been dominating the news in my city. Thirteen of the passengers were coming home to Edmonton. The parallels to Malaysia Airlines MH17 are pretty striking.
posted by Kevin Street at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

It's all a bit weird, uncanny, disorienting. Several colleagues of mine know people who were killed in the crash. Unsettling doesn't quite capture it.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

Thirteen of the passengers were coming home to Edmonton. The parallels to Malaysia Airlines MH17 are pretty striking

Even worse, I believe it was thirty, or one percent of Edmonton's Iranian community.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:05 PM on January 10, 2020 [11 favorites]

Looking at those faces, reading their stories -- I am filled with sadness and fury. So many good people. So many immigrants, only wanting to make a better life for themselves and their kids. So much love and promise -- and it was all wiped out by recklessness and hate.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but I'll save that for some other time. Right now I want to focus on these good people who worked hard for a better world.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:22 PM on January 10, 2020 [16 favorites]

This is one of those things I just bounce off because if I really think about it I will lose my mind. Damn it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:29 PM on January 10, 2020 [10 favorites]

Someone forgot to tell Tehran ATC to halt operations and close the airspace or someone forgot to tell the air defense commanders to stand down.
posted by interogative mood at 7:31 PM on January 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

"Someone forgot..." Words many have died by.
posted by kozad at 7:43 PM on January 10, 2020 [10 favorites]

The US may not have shot down this plane, but who could argue that these near-200 bright and promising innocent civilians would not have died if we hadn't exchanged their lives for the opportunity to murder one statesman? I'm reminded of how Polio made a resurgance in Pakistan after CIA operatives posed as international health workers while tracking down Bin Laden...
posted by Theiform at 7:47 PM on January 10, 2020 [52 favorites]

I can't help but feel like we all worried so much about the threat of nuclear war yet here is an actual, reoccurring war machine at work with far less scrutiny. People take flights all the time - and now, if your flight goes intercontinental, you have to brace for death. "Misfire" my ass.

MH370 and MH17 happening months within each other was exhausting enough, as someone who spent a lot of time flying on Malaysia Airlines (and even on MH17's route) - they hit way too close to home almost literally. The parallels between this and MH17 is stunning and now I'm exhausted again.
posted by divabat at 8:07 PM on January 10, 2020 [9 favorites]

posted by limeonaire at 8:13 PM on January 10, 2020

Can you imagine being on that connecting flight to Canada where there are 138 empty seats that were supposed to be taken by people who are now all at once dead. My god.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:14 PM on January 10, 2020 [47 favorites]

My mom's friend had relatives on the plane.

posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:16 PM on January 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

Iran admits it 'unintentionally' shot down Ukrainian plane: Government statement blames 'human error' for the incident that left 176 people killed many of them Iranian citizens. (Al Jazeera)
Iran has announced that its military "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 on board.

The statement Saturday morning blames "human error" for the incident.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 8:27 PM on January 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

posted by grandiloquiet at 8:29 PM on January 10, 2020

A cruise missile is just a relatively slow flying airplane with a jet engine. It's going to look a lot the same as an airliner on radar.

When the airliner took off from the airport, it was probably too low to be visible to the anti-aircraft radar until it climbed to a sufficient altitude to be scanned. Then it would have suddenly appeared as a new blip on the radar out of thin air at close range. They may have panicked thinking it was an incoming missile.

They should have been monitoring air traffic control, but generally communications are in the English language throughout the world. Maybe the only guy on the missile crew who spoke English was off duty.
posted by JackFlash at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yes - fully precipitated by the unnecessary and preemptive US attack.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:40 PM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Deleted a meditation (and a reply) on general moral culpability for everyday actions that's fine on its own, but out of place in a thread about a recent tragedy that is impacting many of our members in or adjacent to Canadian academia.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:43 PM on January 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by lapolla at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Even worse, I believe it was thirty, or one percent of Edmonton's Iranian community.

Thirteen confirmed, according to the news. But regardless of which city they come from, a plane full of innocent people is now gone.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:28 PM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by pt68 at 9:32 PM on January 10, 2020

posted by ghharr at 9:33 PM on January 10, 2020

Cruise missles can fly in at an altitude of 110 meters, and don't have to pop up to acquire their targets because of their inertial navigation systems (if I'm reading that article properly).

If possible, I'd imagine flying them near an airport before final targeting to confuse defenses would be a standard tactic.

So perhaps the anti-missle crew was under a little more duress than we might think.
posted by jamjam at 9:42 PM on January 10, 2020

My thoughts on this are still too incoherent for words, so I will stick with:
.......... .......... .......... ..........
.......... .......... .......... ..........
.......... .......... .......... ..........
.......... .......... .......... ..........
.......... ......
We didn't know her, but one went to school ten minutes from here.
posted by bcd at 9:42 PM on January 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Per the New York Times:

The Iranian military's statement said the plane “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target” as it came close to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base. It said that “under these circumstances, because of human error,” the plane “came under fire.”

One of the wonders of the modern age is the ability to use data to call bullshit on this crap. I linked to Flightradar24 in the prior thread. If you look at the flight paths for prior days for PS752 it’s the same flight path pretty much every time (may require a Flightradar24 login to view the playbacks). I’m sure plenty of people smarter than I will show that over the next few days.

The US and Iran jointly created a climate that caused people to be on an absolute hair-trigger (and it really doesn’t matter how much fault you attribute to either side). A finger slipped in a heartbeat. 176 innocent people died as a result. It’s that terrifyingly simple.

In any decent society everyone involved on both sides would be ashamed, own up, and either commit to never have it happen again or be pushed out the way for those who will.

So just .

For those on the plane - all I can hope is their passing was instantaneous and painless, and that their family and friends get the truth.

I also hope the literal pushing of the button didn’t come down to some junior solider being forced to make an impossibly complex risk analysis and decision in a few brief seconds under immense pressure. Knowing you caused that amount of pain and suffering is unfathomable. And with the Iranian government promising “prosecutions” of those responsible I can’t imagine the fear they would have.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:44 PM on January 10, 2020 [21 favorites]

Ahmad Khani: Thanks for making this post.

A couple of things have struck me about this. One is the on-line analysis of the crash by sites like Bellingcat, and the ancillary info widely available on the Internet. This is the kind of thing that people hoped for as the Web came into being.

But I also note how nations were ready to blame the US right away. When the official Iranian statement blamed American "adventurism", they echoed a news panel discussion on CBC (25:33) that concluded that Canada had to look elsewhere than the US for allies, that the US under Trump, is not reliable. (Do I need to recount the incidents, from wrecking the Paris Treaty to the Abandoning the Kurds?)

Trudeau worked at gathering support and put together a group featuring representatives from every nation who lost someone, as a kind of pressure lobby. That all came together pretty quick and, I think, shows how other nations are ready to act together without the US.

I suppose Macron was the first to say it out loud, but the US has lost a great deal of international standing under Trump. And I suspect that helped Iran to open up. They know other nations understand that everyone is under pressure and very jumpy.
posted by CCBC at 11:21 PM on January 10, 2020 [29 favorites]

I really don't have much of value to say other than I am Canadian and this hurts, it really hurts a lot.

So many fellow Canadians gone, just like that, over an imbecile who got elected to the most powerful position on earth because the most powerful country on earth can't function politically.

My deepest sorrow to all affected.

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 2:09 AM on January 11, 2020 [10 favorites]

Thank you so much for making this post, Ahmad Khani! That's a magnificent collection of coverage, and it's very helpful.

I'd been tin-hatting it all over the previous thread yesterday: my worry and anger was that the plane had been shot down by another actor (acting at the behest of either Russia or the USA) for reasons connected to the plane's Ukrainian origin. It didn't make sense that Iran would deliberately shoot down a plane that had just taken off from their own airport.

This truth, however, does make sense, the most tragic and pointless kind of sense. I'm horrified but (rather grossly) pleased that Iran has admitted to this: it's horrible beyond belief, certainly to Canada but even more so to the loved ones in Iran, but at least Iran has had the honesty to make it clear what's happened. I'm proud of our government's reaction: Trudeau and his people have done a solid job providing information and comfort, and the European allies have formed a united front which helped with moral suasion. It's a bit ironic that Iran, for all its initial BS and bluster, had the decency to acknowledge their guilt and apologize; I'm sure that's mostly because the plane was full of their own people. The irony, of course, is that the Trump administration, had they done the same thing, would never admit guilt or apologize.

And, as the National panelists said, that means that America's role as trusted leader is dead, and we have to make our own paths and alliances around them.
posted by jrochest at 2:38 AM on January 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

posted by daybeforetheday at 3:01 AM on January 11, 2020

On top of the tragic loss to Iran and Canada, I keep thinking about whether I met some of the flight crew that died. I've flown UIA a lot over the past two years and they quickly became my favourite airline - the attendants professionally and ruthlessly riding herd on some very unruly crowds, the pilots taking care not to jostle passengers too much despite some very difficult weather and landings. Ukraine's been through a lot and the crew's pride in their bright new airline was palpable.

posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:32 AM on January 11, 2020 [12 favorites]

posted by hydropsyche at 3:56 AM on January 11, 2020

posted by Wilder at 4:37 AM on January 11, 2020

Everything about all of this is so fucked. Fog of war my fat ass. Who the fuck pulls the trigger on a passenger aircraft? How does this even happen with an aircraft departing ostensibly from the airspace it was shot from?

I don't know what to say but a big fuck you to arms dealers, designers and manufacturers and to fervently, earnestly pray for peace and to break as much bread as I can.
posted by loquacious at 4:56 AM on January 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

A profile of one of the victims, Ghanimat Azhdari, and her work on mapping indigenous sites. She had done this work in Iran, and was starting a program adapting the paradigm with First Nations groups in Canada.

May her memory, and the memories of everyone on board, be a blessing.
posted by damayanti at 5:01 AM on January 11, 2020 [24 favorites]

posted by homunculus at 6:47 AM on January 11, 2020

posted by Joe in Australia at 7:12 AM on January 11, 2020

There are a lot of Iranians in Canadian academia. The Iranian educational system is extremely competitive and their top universities produce people who excel in graduate school in Canada. I don't personally know anyone who was on this plane. But I know so many people who had students that were. Several in my department. So much sorrow. It is devastating.

posted by grouse at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2020 [23 favorites]

Close to 20 people living in Sweden died in the crash as well. It is just so sad.

posted by Bella Donna at 8:19 AM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Mod note: Couple comments deleted. This isn't a good place for bleak jokes, which - regardless of good intentions -- can feel callous when they're coming from people safely not affected.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:10 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Here is a lengthy thread by Christiaan Triebert @trbrtc, visual investigator for the New York Times, that offers some insight into the ongoing OSINT investigation. And for those who prefer reading Twitter "unrolled", here is the Threadreader link.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:45 PM on January 11, 2020

A metatalk check-in page is now active.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:46 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

There are some thoughtful commentary essays in the Saturday Globe & Mail opinion section.

More than one CBC radio correspondent has mentioned the oddity that this event was downplayed in USA media on Thursday, at least until the USA president mentioned it.. (seems to prove that: yes Canadians are always obsessed with what the USA thinks; and that USA media is always obsessed with what the twitter chief thinks about something for it to make it into the news).

PM Justin is dealing with a tricky situation that he inherited from Harper's old hard pro-Israel/anti-Iran policy that resulted in closing official diplomatic relations with Iran, which is now resulting in some complications. (I think a move to reopen diplomacy with Iran was voted down in Justin's first term). I think that if Canada is capable of reopening diplomacy with Iran in the light of this tragedy, it would be a good thing for the future.

A tech-wonk commentator on CBC radio speculated that automation software might also be partly to blame. It's an automated missile defense system set to high alert, perhaps with undertrained operators & imperfect oversight. (vaguely speculating myself, I find a poorly operated automated trigger more likely than any reason.)

This tragedy is a traumatic event in Canada as well as Iran (and Ukraine), as grouse mentioned, many of the victims were the most promising among us.
posted by ovvl at 3:59 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

A tech-wonk commentator on CBC radio speculated that automation software might also be partly to blame.

There is reasonably solid evidence that this is the case. The system in question is indeed highly automated. It also includes an automated IFF interrogator that should prevent the system from targeting a civilian aircraft with a working transponder.

It makes me wonder if there wasn't some electrical fault or possibly an onboard fire that knocked out the electrical bus and prevented the targeting system from recognizing the plane as civilian. The video evidence is consistent with either possibility, so we will have to wait and see if there were even more failures than those already known involved.
posted by wierdo at 11:42 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ahmad Khani, thank you in particular for the National Post article, though I don't know how long it may take me to get through it.
posted by away for regrooving at 11:50 PM on January 11, 2020

a friend of a friend was aboard. it's been tough to watch the grief.
posted by wires at 6:17 AM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

It makes me wonder if there wasn't some electrical fault or possibly an onboard fire that knocked out the electrical bus and prevented the targeting system from recognizing the plane as civilian.

Commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Amir-Ali Hajizadeh has, in a press conference, outlined the details of an “unintentional” downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane, which crashed in Tehran Wednesday.

If the transcript on that page is accurate (and given supporting video I am making assumption it is) then the short version is “we fucked up because of a comms issue on the ground and shot down the plane - bad call in a extreme situation”.

I think we’ll find the plane was 100% operating ok. And - if the transcript and press conference is accurate and truthful - is exactly what I feared up the thread - someone had seconds to make a snap judgement and didn’t get a vital piece of data in time - and simply made a coin toss decision that was the wrong one. Occam’s razor.

From the transcript:
In those moments when the incident happens, this air defence unit realizes that there is a target – which it identified as a cruise missile – at a distance of 19 kilometres. Now I’m explaining it on the map. This is the place where the air defence unit is deployed … here is the city of Tehran … This is the air defence unit deployed here at 00:00 (Wednesday), and was prepared. And here’s the Imam Khomeini Airport. This plane takes off from here and takes this direction. It means this is the impact point. Given the information sent to this operator – that it is a wartime situation and a cruise missile has been fired – this poor guy identifies it as a cruise missile.

Well at such a situation, he was obliged to contact, get approval. This is where this operator makes the mistake; but at that moment, his communication system was apparently disrupted – whether because of jamming systems or the high traffic. For that reason, he fails to contact [his commanders]. He had 10 seconds to decide; he could hit or not hit [the target]. Under such circumstances, he decides to make that bad decision; he engages, the missile is fired, and the plane is hit at this place. Then it returns through this track, and here’s the point where it hits the ground.

posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

Oh and I missed it in the transcript but here you go:

Our dear brothers at the Aviation Organization categorically rejected the possibility of a missile hitting the plane; they acted based on what they knew. I must say they were not guilty and have nothing to do with this. All the blame is on us; they’re innocent. The plane was also on its track, it made no mistake. It did the right thing, as did the Aviation Organization. Everyone did the right thing. Only one of our forces made a mistake. Since he is under our command, we are responsible for that. We must be accountable.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:53 PM on January 12, 2020 [19 favorites]

Piece about the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Iraq [Global]. The interview with the general is pretty nothing much, but summarizes the public attitude of the Army/Gov't on this. But you may notice that the word to describe the withdrawal is not "temporary" but, rather, the assignment is "being re-examined". I doubt they will return any time soon. This was a stated mission to train anti-ISIS Iraqi forces. There are also some other units in the area including (possibly) a top-secret commando outfit and some supply aircraft, but (probably) no fighters, like the ones used against Libya.
This is the way it's going to go, IMO. No big announcements, no threats to leave NATO or Five Eye or any of the other entanglements with US foreign policy, just an unwillingness to be part of US ventures.
posted by CCBC at 12:50 AM on January 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also, the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods has tweeted some stuff about Trump. One quote:
U.S. government leaders unconstrained by checks/balances, concocted an ill-conceived plan to divert focus from political woes. The world knows Iran is a dangerous state, but the world found a path to contain it; not perfect but by most accounts it was the right direction…
However accurate that statement may be, I think it summarizes the general attitude here.
posted by CCBC at 1:00 AM on January 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

That explanation for the shootdown, whilst at least acknowledging that the aircraft and its crew were not at fault, is still very unsatisfactory.

It is unsatisfactory for the same reasons as apply to the near-identical explanation given by the US for shooting down an RAF Tornado during the 2003 Gulf War, killing two British aircrew.

I spent a fair bit of my military career (yes, in the RAF) dealing with ground-based air defence systems, and one of the most important things you do when setting them up is have procedures for 'safe lanes' for friendly traffic departing from or approaching nearby runways.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:12 AM on January 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

Major Clanger - agree and it’s really hard to know how much of the statement is true or accurate. But I was surprised how transparent it appears at face value to be - in that they are appearing to admit to a lot of screwups - and to your point around setting up safe airspace - it suggests that someone requested suspension of all commercial flights but that didn’t occur. Again we have zero way of checking the veracity of the statement - and it may have been designed to pin blame on one or two people - but boy they didn’t really sugar coat it.

He says in this interview that “we requested for several times that the country’s airspace be cleared of [civilian] flights.’ At the Alert Level 3, this is normal; such requests are made; well our dear brothers didn’t follow up the issue for certain considerations. So the planes fly despite the wartime situation.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:44 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

As a non-white Canadian I can't say how refreshing it was to see the comments made by the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. My heart has been crying periodically this past week over this stupid, senseless loss of life all to uphold the fallacy of Western White Supremacy.

I also can't say how disappointing it has been to read the comments of fellow Canadians in the HuffPost's comments section... how are so many of us too stupid to realize how accurate his statements are???
posted by human ecologist at 1:59 PM on January 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Iran Cracks Down as Protests Over Downing of Airliner Grow
Remarkably, some criticism is coming from some within the government’s hard-line power base.

There does seem to be a lot of internal protest in Iran, but the language and cultural barrier makes it hard for me to tell whether and to what extent it's genuinely significant. For instance, I've seen demonstrators calling for the overthrow of Iran's Supreme Leader, but I don't know the geography, the number of people involved, or whether this is a thing that generally happens.

Also, from the same journalist, this:
Farnaz Fassihi @farnazfassihi
Iran State TV's anchor resigns saying, "It was very hard for me to believe the killing of my countrymen. I apologize for lying to you on TV for 13 years."
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

There does seem to be a lot of internal protest in Iran, but the language and cultural barrier makes it hard for me to tell whether and to what extent it's genuinely significant.

Today's edition of CBC's As It Happens interviews a Iranian-Canadian doctor currently in Tehran, and he talks about what he's seeing and hearing with regard to the protests (the segment is the first ten minutes or so of the broadcast).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:49 PM on January 13, 2020

How digital sleuths unravelled the mystery of Iran's plane crash: Open-source intelligence proved vital in the investigation into Ukraine Airlines flight PS752. Then Iranian officials had to admit the truth (Wired)
It’s not unusual nowadays for OSINT to lead the way in decoding key news events. When Sergei Skripal was poisoned, Bellingcat, an open-source intelligence website, tracked and identified his killers as they traipsed across London and Salisbury. They delved into military records to blow the cover of agents sent to kill. And in the days after the Ukraine Airlines plane crashed into the ground outside Tehran, Bellingcat and The New York Times have blown a hole in the supposition that the downing of the aircraft was an engine failure. The pressure – and the weight of public evidence – compelled Iranian officials to admit overnight on January 10 that the country had shot down the plane “in error”.

So how do they do it? “You can think of OSINT as a puzzle. To get the complete picture, you need to find the missing pieces and put everything together,” says Loránd Bodó, an OSINT analyst at Tech versus Terrorism, a campaign group. The team at Bellingcat and other open-source investigators pore over publicly available material. Thanks to our propensity to reach for our cameraphones at the sight of any newsworthy incident, video and photos are often available, posted to social media in the immediate aftermath of events. (The person who shot and uploaded the second video in this incident, of the missile appearing to hit the Boeing plane was a perfect example: they grabbed their phone after they heard “some sort of shot fired”.) “Open source investigations essentially involve the collection, preservation, verification, and analysis of evidence that is available in the public domain to build a picture of what happened,” says Yvonne McDermott Rees, a lecturer at Swansea University.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:19 PM on January 14, 2020

« Older No, It's The Users Who Are Wrong   |   Tonight you dine with the fishes Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments