Investigators believe Malaysia Airlines co-pilot spoke last words from missing plane
Published March 17, 2014 | FoxNews.com
Investigators said Monday that they believe that the co-pilot of vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 gave the final communication heard by air traffic controllers shortly before the plane disappeared from civilian radar screens.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said at a news conference Monday that initial investigations indicate that co-pilot is the one who calmly said, “All right, good night.” Authorities had said Sunday that the words were heard around 1:30 a.m. local time, nearly a half hour after the data recorder was turned off and 10 minutes after the transponder was deactivated.
The latest revelation is likely to sharpen suspicions that the two pilots were somehow involved in the plane’s disappearance.
The focus of the investigation had been on the pilots throughout the weekend, as speculation arose over whether one of the men flying the plane could have hijacked it in an anti-government protest.
Britain’s Daily Mail on Sunday, citing police sources, reported that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, was an “obsessive” supporter of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was sentenced to five years in prison on a charge of sodomy just hours before the Malaysia Airlines plane took off. The Mail reported that Malaysian authorities fear that Zaharie, who was at Ibrahim’s trial, may have been upset enough by Ibrahim’s imprisonment to hijack his own aircraft as a form of political protest.
The Mail reported that investigators had already examined two laptops from Zaharie’s home, one of which is believed to contain data from a sophisticated flight simulator. Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general, said police had reassembled the simulator in their offices to examine it.
Britain’s Sunday Telegraph added that investigators were examining whether the jet’s disappearance was tied to a 9/11-style plot masterminded by Al Qaeda’s Khalid Sheik Mohammad. Such a plot was mentioned by a British-born Saajid Badat earlier this week at the New York trial of Usama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.
Badat said that a Malaysia-based Al Qaeda cell of four or five people had planned to take control of a plane, using a shoe bomb to gain access to the cockpit. He added that he had met the jihadists, one of whom claimed he was a pilot, at a terror camp in Afghanistan and given them a shoe bomb for use. The Sunday Telegraph reported that one target of the attack may have been the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, formerly the tallest buildings in the world.
The Sunday Telegraph also reported that Badat, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his part in a conspiracy to blow up a transatlantic flight with shoe bomber Richard Reid, first made claims that the plot existed in 2012. However, British security experts called Badat’s evidence “credible,” with one telling the paper “These spectaculars take a long time in the planning.”
On Saturday, Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak said someone appeared to have deliberately diverted the plane from its flight path, but kept it in the air for a number of hours after it vanished.
Malaysia’s government on Sunday asked for help from nearly a dozen Asian countries that the missing jetliner may have flown over, saying that finding the plane would be very difficult without additional data on its final movements.
Bakar told reporters that he had requested countries with citizens on board the plane to investigate their background. He said that the intelligence agencies of some countries had already done this and found nothing suspicious, but that he was waiting for others to respond.
“The search was already a highly complex, multinational effort. It has now become even more difficult,” Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference Sunday.