- 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.
SYDNEY, April 28
Bluefin-21 submersible has finished the exploration of the area, which was initially designated for it to search for missing Malaysian Boeing 777 and failed to find any objects of interest, according to representatives of the search coordination center that continues operating in Australia’s Perth.
Despite lack of results, the rescuers decided to continue using the submersible: at present, Bluefin-21 is making its 16th immersion and explores the bottom of neighboring sections.
On Sunday, there were no search operations involving planes and ships due to a strong storm in the ocean. On Monday, weather conditions improved, and it made possible to go on with the search operation. In the course of the day, nine planes and 12 ships will be monitoring a 54,920 square km area in some 1,670 km from Perth.
Boeing 777-200 of Malaysian Airlines was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 7. It carried 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard. Communication with the jet was interrupted nearly two hours after its departure from the Malaysian capital. Since then, there was no information about the missing airliner.
March 24, the air carrier issued a statement informing about the death of all people who were onboard of the missing plane.
According to experts, the search operation involving 26 countries may become the most expensive in aviation’s history. $44 million are already spent on the search, and the overall expenditures may reach several hundreds of millions of dollars.
(CNN) — The underwater drone scanning the ocean for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended its eighth mission Monday, having covered about two thirds of its intended territory without finding any sign of the missing plane.
This has been the case for 45 days now, which seems like an eternity for the relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board, still hoping for a miracle or, at least, closure.
“Emotionally, it’s up and down. You know? Sometimes, I’m OK. Sometimes, so-so. Sometimes — always — very sad,” said Nur Laila Ngah, whose husband worked on the flight’s cabin crew.
The couple had been planning to celebrate their 13th anniversary this year. They have three children, ages 12, 10 and 8.
Recalling a conversation she had with her husband before he left, Laila said: “I was asking him, ‘are we going to have the next 13 years together?’ Of course.”
About their children, she said: “They have faith that their father will be coming back.”
These efforts may be a main focus of the search, but they aren’t the only part.
Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre announced Monday morning that up to 10 military aircraft and 11 ships would participate in the day’s search.
Previously, acting Malaysian Transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that “experts have narrowed down the search area.”
But are they actually closer to finding anything? “It’s difficult to say,” Hishammuddin conceded, adding the search “is at a critical juncture.”
“I appeal to everybody around the world,” he said, “to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days.”
The failure to find clues to the plane’s disappearance does not mean that the operation will stop, only that other approaches — such as a wider scope or the use of other assets — may be considered, Hishammuddin told reporters. “The search will always continue.”
Still, he said, “With every passing day, the search has become more and more difficult.”
Mother Nature isn’t making this task much easier.
Tropical Cyclone Jack is circulating northwest of the search area. And while it won’t hit directly, this system should increase winds and rains.
Malaysian authorities briefed families of people aboard Flight 370 behind closed doors Sunday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Selamat Bin Omar, whose 29-year-old son was a passenger, told CNN that officials dealt with practical matters, such as how the families could make bank transactions.
Hamid Ramlan, whose daughter and son-in-law were on the plane, said he learned nothing new at the briefing.
“I believe that the government didn’t try to hide something, or hide any information from us. They are telling the truth. But then, mostly the members of victims, the families, they do not want to believe,” he said.
His wife falls into that category.
“My wife cannot accept that. She still believes that the airplane was hijacked. She believes that my daughter is still alive.”
Passengers’ relatives list questions
It was early on March 8 when Flight 370 set off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing.
The plane never made it.
What happened has been a confounding mystery, with the frustration of passengers’ family members compounded by a scarcity of details from authorities.
New bits of information that have come out six weeks later may help round out the picture but don’t answer the main question: Why did the plane go off course, and where is it now?
These recent developments include a senior Malaysian aviation source’s assertion that the jetliner deviated from its flight path while inside Vietnamese airspace.
It turned left, then climbed to 39,000 feet — below its maximum safe limit of 43,100 feet — and maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes over the Malay Peninsula before beginning to descend, the source said.
Malaysia Airlines has declined to answer CNN’s questions on various matters — including the fact that, according to the source, the missing jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters. When triggered by a crash, ELTs are designed to transmit their location to a satellite.
Relatives of people aboard the jetliner have drawn up 26 questions that they want addressed by Malaysian officials, who are to meet with them next week in Beijing. Most of the Flight 370 passengers were Chinese.
Among them: What’s in the flight’s log book? Can they review the jet’s maintenance records? Can they listen to recordings of the Boeing 777 pilot’s conversations with air traffic controllers just before contact was lost?
Hishammuddin has defended his government’s handling of the operation and accused members of the media of focusing on the Chinese families. He said relatives of passengers and crew from other nations represented have not had problems.
“The most difficult part of any investigation of this nature is having to deal with the families,” he said.
Following four strong underwater signals in the past week, all has gone quiet in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, meaning the batteries in the plane’s all-important black boxes may finally have died.
Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes’ locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews were continuing their search in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday for debris and any sounds that may still be emanating. They are desperately trying to pinpoint where the Boeing 777 could be amid an enormous patch of deep ocean.
No new electronic pings have been detected since Tuesday by an Australian ship dragging a U.S. Navy device that listens for flight recorder signals. Once officials are confident that no more sounds will be heard, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage.
“We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas. “The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days. We’re hoping it might last 40 days. However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”
Recovering the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is essential for investigators to try to figure out what happened to Flight 370, which vanished March 8. It was carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
After analyzing satellite data, officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Investigators trying to determine what happened to the plane are focusing on four areas – hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems of those on board.
Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which was towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday, but no new ones have been picked up since then.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed confidence that the pings picked up by the Ocean Shield were coming from the plane’s two black boxes, but he cautioned that finding the actual aircraft could take a long time.
“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month. There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this,” Abbott said Saturday in Beijing, where he was wrapping up a visit to China.
Searchers want to pinpoint the exact location of the source of the sounds – or as close as they can get – before sending the Bluefin 21 submersible down. It will not be deployed until officials are confident that no other electronic signals will come, and that they have narrowed the search area as much as possible.
The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometre patch of the seabed, about the size of Los Angeles.
The sub takes six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator, and will need about six weeks to two months to canvass the current underwater zone. The signals are also coming from 4,500 metres below the surface, which is the deepest the sub can dive.
The surface area being searched on Sunday for floating debris was 57,506 square kilometres) of ocean extending about 2,200 kilometres northwest of Perth. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships were participating in the hunt.
According to earlier media reports, Abbott, who is on an official visit to China, said he was “very confident” that the signals detected are from the missing flight.
In a luncheon in Shanghai, he said the information does not mean that the debris of the plane can be found.
Australia, along with China and other countries involved, will try every effort to continue the search, according to sources who quoted Abbott at the luncheon site.
The plane’s black box, or flight recorder, could be used to solve the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course.
Two new “ping” signals have been detected in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, reviving confidence in the month-old hunt, Australian officials said on Wednesday.
Australian ship Ocean Shield detected one ping that lasted for over five minutes on Tuesday afternoon, while a second one was detected on Tuesday night and lasted for about seven minutes, Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search, said.
“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.
“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston added.
The U.S. Navy “ping locater” detected two signals that were consistent with black box beacons. The first lasted for more than two hours while the second was only for about 13 minutes.
Flights’ black boxes record cockpit data, and could provide information on the fate of the plane, but the batteries in the beacons have already exceeded their 30-day life expectancy.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Its signal disappeared after it flew thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean towards Beijing, its destination.
Satellite data analysts and investigators centered the search to an approximate area of 2,261 kilometers northwest Australia’s Perth, in a remote area where they concluded the Boeing 777 could be.
The new signals may allow searchers to narrow the area even more.
“Now hopefully with lots of transmissions we’ll have a tight, small area and hopefully in a matter of days we will be able to find something on the bottom,” Houston said.
While authorities did not rule out the possibility of mechanical problems leading to the disappearance of the plane, they said evidence suggests the plane was deliberately diverted by someone familiar with the aircraft.
Malaysian airlines have announced beyond any reasonable doubt that flight MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived.
The airline has informed the relatives of those on board the doomed flight that the plane is “lost” with no survivors.
There were reports that military radar picked up an unidentified plane, after the stricken jet lost contact with air traffic controllers, which had made a sharp turn as well as descending to a much lower altitude before heading out into the Indian Ocean.
There have been no confirmed sightings of the plane or any debris that can be conclusively linked to it after an international search that has lasted two weeks. The search over the Indian Ocean entered its fifth day on Monday.
The UK Air Accidents Investigations Branch told the Malaysian authorities that the planes final location was above the southern Indian Ocean.
By this he meant satellite data automatically sent by the stricken plane, concluded that the flight ended in an air corridor over the southern Indian Ocean.
“We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles guiding this information.”
His somber announcement comes just a few hours after the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said that an Australian navy plane searching the area had spotted debris floating in the sea and that a ship from the Australian navy, HMAS Success, was just a few hours away and would hopefully be able to identify the floating objects.
Many theories have been put forward by a range of experts on what could have happened to the missing plane. One of the most convincing was by a Canadian pilot, Christopher Goodfellow, who said there may have been an electrical fire on board, which would have disabled many of the plane systems, although not all of them.
The pilots would have dropped altitude quickly and changed course to try and land the crippled plane at the nearest available airport, but before they could do this they and everybody else on board would have been overcome by smoke inhalation, while the plane flew on auto pilot before running out of fuel over the Indian Ocean.
Also earlier today a Chinese plane sighted objects in the search area, but different to those seen by the Australian air crew.
Three areas were identified for operations on Monday, totaling 20,000 square nautical miles with 10 aircraft being used.
While Australia is currently the only country to have a ship in the area, a number of Chinese vessels will arrive on Tuesday together with a further three aircraft – two from Japan and one from the UAE.
While 6 Malaysian ships are in the north part of the southern corridor and HMS Echo, a British survey ship, is in the Maldives refueling and will sail to the southern corridor on Monday evening.
PERTH, Australia (AP) — France provided new satellite data Sunday showing possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as searchers combing a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean tried without success to locate a pallet that could be a key clue in solving one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.
The new information given to Malaysia’s government and forwarded to searchers in Australia shows “potential objects” in the same part of the ocean where satellite images previously released by Australia and China showed objects that could be debris from the plane, Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement without providing further details.
Flight 370 went missing over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, setting off a multinational search effort that has turned up nothing conclusive so far on what happened to the jet.
Sunday’s search was frustrating because “there was cloud down to the surface and at times we were completely enclosed by cloud,” Royal Australian Air Force flight Lt. Russell Adams told reporters at the military base where the planes take off and land on their missions.
Nothing of interest to searchers was found, he said, adding that the search is worth it because “we might do 10 sorties and find nothing, but on that 11th flight when you find something and you know that you’re actually contributing to some answers for somebody.”
Details on the French data were not immediately released. The statement from Malaysia called the information “new satellite images,” while a statement from France’s Foreign Ministry said “radar echoes taken by a satellite” had located floating debris but made no mention of imagery.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is leading the search in waters off Australia, declined to offer details about the information from France. The authority did not respond to multiple requests by The Associated Press for access to the data.
“Any satellite images or other new information that comes to AMSA is being considered in developing the search plans,” AMSA said.
But a Malaysian official involved in the search mission said the French data consisted of radar echoes captured Friday and converted into fuzzy images that located objects about 930 kilometers (575 miles) north of the spots where the objects in the images released by Australia and China were located.
One of the objects located was estimated to be about the same size as an object captured Tuesday by the Chinese satellite that appeared to be 22 meters (72 feet) by 13 meters (43 feet), said the official, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. It was not possible to determine precise dimensions from the French data, the official said.
Information about the new data emerged as authorities coordinating the search, which is being conducted about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, sent planes and a ship to try to “re-find” a wooden pallet that appeared to be surrounded by straps of varying lengths and colors. It was spotted Saturday by spotters in a search plane, but no images were captured of it and a military PC Orion military plane dispatched to locate the pallet could not find it.
“So, we’ve gone back to that area again today to try and re-find it,” said Mike Barton, chief of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination center. An Australian navy ship was also involved in the search.
Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers carried on planes.
AMSA said the aircraft that spotted the pallet was unable to take photos of it.
Crews are set to scour southern areas of the Indian Ocean for a fourth day.
Two sets of satellite images showing floating objects in the area have raised hopes that the jet may be there.
The two Chinese aircraft have been flown in from Malaysia, where they were helping with the search further north.
Six other planes are already at the Perth base, and scoured an area of the Indian Ocean the size of Denmark on Saturday.
But the mission found no debris.
Ships supporting the search are already in the area, or are on their way.
The Australian navy’s HMAS Success, which is large enough to recover any debris if needed, has arrived in the search area.
Malaysian officials suspect the plane, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was deliberately taken off course.
The Boeing-777 disappeared on 8 March; two thirds of the passengers were Chinese.
China on Saturday released a satellite image showing an object floating in the southern Indian Ocean near to the area already being searched, some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth.
The grainy image was released by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The find was announced by Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein amid a routine briefing in Kuala Lumpur.
The Xinhua state news agency said the latest satellite image was taken at about 04:00 GMT on 18 March and showed objects about 120km “south by west” from the first site.
Other satellite images of possible aircraft debris in a nearby area were released earlier in the week.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the sightings were encouraging signs.
“Obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope – no more than hope, no more than hope – that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft,” he said.
After operations ended for the day on Saturday, Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority said an aircraft had reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye within a radius of five kilometres, including a wooden pallet.
However the floating object seen in the new satellite image was not spotted.
At his briefing, Acting Transport Minister Hussein also said investigations of the plane’s cargo manifest did “not show any link to anything that may have contribution to the plane’s disappearance”.
He also referred to the angry scenes as Malaysian officials briefed Chinese relatives in Beijing.
“Government of Malaysia, tell us the truth – give us back our loved ones,” relatives shouted at the Lido Hotel.
Mr Hussein admitted the briefing had been “tense” and an investigation was under way to try to improve the situation.
The search has been in two distinct corridors – one stretching to the north-west of the last known location in the Malacca Straits and one to the south-west.
The locations were based on a data “ping” apparently sent to a satellite from the missing plane hours after it vanished from other indicators.
However, on Saturday, Mr Hussein said that China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma) and several other nations had informed Malaysia that analysis of their radar records had revealed no evidence of flight MH370 crossing their airspace.