With malicious intent strongly suspected in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, American intelligence and law enforcement agencies renewed their search over the weekend for any evidence that the plane’s diversion was part of a terrorist plot. But they have found nothing so far and their efforts have been limited by the Malaysian authorities’ refusal to accept large-scale American assistance.
NY Times There are just two F.B.I. agents in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, where local investigators are hunting for clues that the two pilots or any of the other 237 people on board had links to militant groups or other motives to hijack the flight. In the days after the plane went missing on March 8, American investigators scoured their huge intelligence databases for information about those on board but came up dry.
“We just don’t have the right to just take over the investigation,” said a senior American official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. “There’s not a whole lot we can do absent of a request from them for more help or a development that relates to information we may have.”
With no obvious motive apparent, American investigators are considering a range of possibilities, though they caution that all remain merely speculative. Among them are involvement by Al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian affiliate, which once discussed recruiting commercial pilots in Malaysia to crash a plane; an act by members of China’s Uighur minority, who have recently become more militant and could conceivably have targeted a plane headed to Beijing; a lone-wolf attack by someone without ties to established terrorist groups; or even a suicidal move by a troubled individual.
Several senior American officials have played down the possibility that a terrorist network was behind the plane’s disappearance because no group has claimed responsibility for it. They said intelligence agencies had not detected chatter among terrorists about such a plot. Given the lack of traditional militant “signatures,” one official said, if terrorists were behind the episode, “it would be unlike anything we have seen before.” (Muslim terrorists keep trying to changing their MO’s, rarely doing the exact same thing twice)