November 10, 2015 | Quote

U.S. Spies Root for an ISIS-Russia War

In the days following the crash of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, which mounting evidence suggests was felled by an ISIS bomb, many U.S. intelligence and security officials weren’t panicking about the so-called Islamic State unleashing a new campaign of attacks on civilian airliners. Instead, they were wondering how the bombing might hurt Vladimir Putin, and potentially help the United States.

Ever since Putin started dropping bombs on militants in Syria, officials have privately been arguing that the Russian leader committed a major strategic blunder, and that his intervention in Syria would weaken both his military and his reputation and likely ignite a backlash from Islamist militants, who have attacked inside Russia in the past.

One U.S. intelligence official, speaking prior to the airliner crash, called the Russian campaign in Syria “Putin’s folly.”


The Metrojet crash, if it turns out to be caused by a bomb, “will probably have a rally around the flag effect” for Putin, said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism expert and fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Beast. If that’s true, the public reaction to the bombing will run counter to U.S. hopes.

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