Has social media cracked the mysterious case of MH17?

Posted on October 19, 2015


A UK blogger may have determined who downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it cruised over Ukraine in 2014.

A report issued on October 13th by the Dutch Safety Board illustrated how a Russian Buk missile was fired at the jetliner, killing all 298 people on board. Russia has roundly rejected the report, which was backed up with detailed forensic analysis. However, Eliot Higgins, a blogger based in the UK, along with a band of other internet sleuths, has claimed that pro-Russian separatists are to blame for the atrocity.

Higgins and his collaborators began by trawling social media accounts for video footage and photographs in a bid to piece together the events that led up to the attack. By cross referencing it with commercial satellite images and footage from traffic cameras, they were able to plot the course of the Buk missile platform as it made its way through rebel terrain in eastern Ukraine.

This information was cross-referenced with subsequent reports in the media. Higgins concluded:

“On July 17, 2014 a Buk missile launcher, originating from the 53rd Brigade near Kursk, Russia, travelled from Donetsk to Snizhne. [It then] drove under its own power to a field south of Snizhne, where at approximately 4:20 pm it launched a surface-to-air missile that hit Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over Ukraine.”

This isn’t the first time that Higgins has used social media to identify the bad guys. He highlighted the use of bio weapons during clashes in Syria by identifying munitions from YouTube videos, reported on US airstrikes and even revealed details of luxury yachts rented by associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Higgins’ site also offers instructional videos for budding citizen journalists.


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