Members of a violent cell of al Qaeda-linked terrorists are being questioned in connection with the disappearance of Flight MH370, according to several British press reports.
UK Telegraph Evidence of a plot by Malaysian Islamists to hijack a passenger jet in a 9/11-style attack is being investigated in connection with the disappearance of Flight MH370 An al-Qaeda supergrass told a court last week 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.
Security experts said the evidence from a convicted British terrorist was “credible”. The supergrass said that he had met the Malaysian jihadists – one of whom was a pilot – in Afghanistan and given them a shoe bomb to use to take control of an aircraft.
A British security source said: “These spectaculars take a long time in the planning.” The possibility of such a plot, hatched by the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, was bolstered by an admission by Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, that the Boeing 777’s communications systems had been deliberately switched off “by someone on the plane”.
In a series of dramatic developments yesterday, it emerged that:
– Flight MH370 had changed direction and altitude after communications devices had been deliberately disabled;
– The plane flew for up to seven hours after civilian radar lost touch with it;
– An unnamed official briefed that the plane had been hijacked although Mr Najib refused to confirm that was the case;
– The plane flew towards either Indonesia or to Kazakhstan after the transponder and messaging systems were disabled;
– Police searched the homes of both pilots for two hours over concerns one may have switched off the communications systems in a suicide bid;
– Chinese officials accused Malaysia of withholding information in a ratcheting up of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
In evidence in a court case last Tuesday, 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. Giving evidence 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.”
Giving evidence 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 being masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.
Badat told the court last week 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.
Prof Anthony Glees, director of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, said the prospect of an Islamist plot offered one explanation for why the Malaysian authorities “have not been telling us the whole truth”.
Prof Glees said: “I believed this was a hijacking as soon as we were told that the plane had altered its flight path. “Evidence that it turned back to Malaysia means that this could easily have been a Malaysian Islamist plot to turn the plane into a 9/11-style bomb to fly it into a building in Kuala Lumpur. “Now we know there is evidence of a Malaysian terror cell with ambitions to carry out such an attack and so this makes it even more credible.”
Prof Glees added: “Islamist terrorists in Malaysia present the country with a really serious political problem. The global repercussions of another 9/11 attack, including grounded aircraft and stock markets crashes, is something no government would want to face.”
James Healy-Pratt, head of aviation at Stewarts Law solicitors, said the lack of information from Malaysian authorities was in stark contrast to the reaction of French officials when an Air France plane – whose black box was not recovered for two years – crashed in the Atlantic in 2009. The lack of information suggested Malaysian authorities may have something to hide. Read More