- Suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of Kedah
- Said to members of violent new terror group said to be planning attacks
- Interrogations came after demands from agencies including FBI and MI6
- Manifest revealed presence of consignment but did not reveal its contents
- Airline has admitted 200kg of lithium batteries was among the items
- It refused to say what else, citing ‘legal reason’ related to ‘ongoing’ probe
Terrorists with links to Al Qaeda may have been behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
11 terrorists, who were reportedly arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah last week, have been interrogated on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of the missing aircraft.
The suspects are said to be members of a violent new terror group who have been planning bomb attacks in Muslim countries.
Aged from 22 to 55, the militants are said to comprise students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals.
An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight’s disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.
“The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group,” the officer said.
News of the interrogations comes two months after the Beijing-bound plane with 239 passengers on board disappeared from trace on March 8.
An international search operation was implemented with ships and planes deployed to scour the seas to find the wreckage of the aircraft, which was believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean.
However, the rescue effort, costing hundreds of millions of pounds, has failed to recover any debris or signs that the aircraft had indeed crashed.
Explanations for its possible disappearance have been focused on a range of theories, from equipment failure, damage to the fuselage, a suicide mission and a terror attack implicating the pilots.
The mystery of the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight took a new twist with the international team probing the incident, considering the possibility that the plane may have landed rather than ended up in the Indian Ocean.
A Russian newspaper had earlier claimed that flight MH370 was hijacked and landed in Afghanistan where passengers were being held hostage.
The theory has been attributed to an alleged source within the country’s FSB secret service, according to newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
In interviews conducted so far, suspects have admitted to planning “sustained terror campaigns” in Malaysia, but denied being involved in the disappearance of the airliner.
It was reported that during the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama Bin Laden‘s son-in-law, Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, trained at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, said he had been instructed to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.
“I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit,” he said.
Investigators were earlier exploring the possibility that pilot Zaharie Ahmed Shah had ‘deliberately’ redirected the plane off course.
Shah was also known to be a ‘fanatical supporter’ of Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, the opposition party which has been the principal thorn in the side of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has ruled Malaysia for 56 years.
Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were recently issued with death certificates.
The latest reports of possible terrorist involvement in the flight’s disappearance will further fuel the speculation that the passengers may have been held captive by a terrorist organisation.
The news comes as Malaysia Airlines said it will close assistance centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.