MI6, the CIA and Chinese intelligence are involved in the search. But there is still nothing conclusive. The jihadist Saajid Badat said that the pilot was involved, but he was speculating just like everyone else.
“Search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane: is this the wreckage of flight MH370?,” by Robert Mendick for the Telegraph, March 30 (thanks to Kenneth):
British secret services are investigating the disappearance of Flight MH370, Malaysia’s transport minister said on Saturday. The disclosure that MI6 as well as the CIA are assisting the Malaysian authorities will fuel renewed speculation the aircraft was hijacked by terrorists.
Last night, hope was growing among the search teams that a part of the wreckage might finally have been found, three weeks after the plane vanished.
A photograph of an object floating in the southern Indian Ocean was taken by a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane which has been combing the seas for clues. Ships have been despatched to try to reach the object even as one expert cautioned it could part of the equipment found on-board a shipping trawler.
The New Zealand image followed a few hours after Chinese and Australian teams reported seeing possible debris from the plane in the same area.
Until now, all possible debris have proved to be unconnected to the missing passenger jet.
As the reports emerged last night attention turned again to what might have caused the plane to vanish.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister, said yesterday that MI6 and the CIA are working with Chinese spy agencies in determining what happened to the Boeing 777 and the 239 passengers and crew on-board.
Yesterday Mr Hishammuddin stopped short of plumping for one theory over any other. He said that MH370’s disappearance was due to “terrorism, hijacking, personal and psychological problems, or technical failure”.
“These scenarios have been discussed at length with different intelligence agencies,” he said. “When all the agencies are comfortable in what is able to be released is public, it is for the [Malaysian] chief of police to do that.”
Crash investigators believe the disappearance of the plane – and the decision to disable the communications system – appears to have been a deliberate action but have found no evidence of a motive.
MI6 is understood to have assisted with extensive background checks on each of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the plane but nothing suspicious has emerged.
Mr Hishammuddin said MI6 has also been involved in examining ‘pings’ emitted by the plane which are being used to try to locate its route during the seven hours after its communications systems were disabled.
“Now that we are talking about satellite data and imagery, the CIA has been on board, Chinese intelligence has been on board, MI6 has been on board,” Mr Hishammuddin said.
The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished off radar screens en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing more than three weeks ago. Speculation has been rife as to the cause of its disappearance but an explanation has so far proved elusive.
The plane turned wildly off course, its communications systems were ‘deliberately’ disconnected and then it carried on flying south over the Indian Ocean. It is thought to have crashed into the sea off the coast of Australia after running out of fuel.
The suggestion that intelligence agencies are involved will renew speculation its disappearance was a criminal act rather than a mechanical failure.
A fortnight ago the Sunday Telegraph disclosed that an al-Qaeda supergrass had previously warned secret services that four to five Malaysian men had been planning to take control of a plane, using a bomb hidden in a shoe to blow open the cockpit door.
The terror plot was hatched, said the supergrass, in an Afghan terror training camp by the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on America.
The Malaysian police investigation has centred largely on the actions of MH370’s pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, but an examination of a flight simulator seized from his home has uncovered “nothing sinister,” Mr Hishammuddin said.
Zaharie, 53, a father of three and veteran pilot, used the simulator to play three flying games.
The different theories have done nothing to ease the anguish of families. The possibility the plane was seized by jihadi terrorists was raised after it emerged that Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, said that he had been instructed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians at the terror camp.
Giving evidence earlier this month at the trial in New York of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Badat said: “I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit.”
Badat, who spoke via video link and is in hiding in the UK, said the Malaysian plot was masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.
According to Badat, Mohammed kept a list of the world’s tallest buildings and crossed out New York’s Twin Towers after the September 11, 2001 attacks with hijacked airliners as “a joke to make us laugh”.
Badat told the court that he believed the Malaysians, including the pilot, were “ready to perform an act.”
During the meeting, the possibility was raised that the cockpit door might be locked. Badat told the court: “So I said, ‘How about I give you one of my bombs to open a cockpit door?’ ” The disclosure that Malaysians were plotting a 9/11-style attack raises the prospect that both pilots were overpowered and the plane intended for use as a fuel-filled bomb. One possible target, if the scenario is correct, will have been the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a symbol of Malaysia’s modernity and the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 until 2004….