Malaysia paying the price for flight MH370 !


Flight MH370: Paying The Price Of 6 Decades Of Nepotism, Racism, Rampant Corruption And Incompetence

On January 23, 2008 a very peculiar thing happened. Commercial airspace at one of the world’s busiest airports was shut down for over 50 minutes. On that day, an aircraft without an approved flight plan entered Singapore’s airspace. Immediately, the Republic of Singapore Air Force dispatched a pair of F-16D fighter jets to intercept the aircraft and escorted it to land at Singapore Changi Airport. Upon landing, airport police immediately surrounded the plane.

“At 6.42pm (2142 AEDT), two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 fighters were scrambled to intercept a civilian aircraft, a Cessna 208, which was heading towards Singapore airspace without an approved flight plan,” the ministry’s director of public affairs, Colonel Darius Lim, said in a statement. “The aircraft was escorted to land at Singapore Changi Airport.”

The above incident highlights the standard operating protocol an Air Force, Civil Aviation Authority and Local Police Force needs to follow in the event of an unidentified aircraft entering it’s airspace without an approved flight plan.

However amidst this hoo-ha, there was one small detail worth noting. The plane took off from Koh Samui, Thailand. And running the full length between Thailand and Singapore is the land mass of Peninsular Malaysia.

In essence, this means that the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia and the Royal Malaysian Air Force had allowed an unknown aircraft to invade over 131 thousand square km of sovereign Malaysian territory and despite this occurring over a period of 3 hours, did not lift a finger to respond.

This incident highlighted a huge security flaw in Malaysia’s Air Defence umbrella. One that if it had patched during any of the subsequent 6 years that followed, would have prevented a bigger tragedy that came with greater embarrassment, scrutiny and loss.

6 years later on 8 March 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing. It never landed at its intended destination. Instead, less than an hour after take-off, the transponder was turned off and 3 sets of military radars tracked the plane flying past Penang and across the breadth of Malaysia from the Gulf of Thailand towards the Indian Ocean.

Unlike the Cessna airplane in the earlier example which was intercepted by the RSAF, 3 sets of people manning Malaysia’s military radars never sounded any alarms. The RMAF never dispatched any fighter jets on standby and the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia never shut down Malaysian airspace when a rogue plane very much larger than a Cessna aircraft flew across it’s airspace.

Suffice to say, had the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia or the RMAF been doing their job properly as exemplified by the example given above, we would not have gone 9 days and counting into a search for a missing and possibly hijacked plane.

Investigators may have recently concluded that the plane had its transponders deliberately turned off and its flight plan deliberately altered but it is the greater observing public who have the biggest conclusion of all; that Malaysian leadership is sorely incompetent when it comes to handling a crisis. In this respect, Malaysia has much to learn from its Southern neighbour. Had the supposed hijackers targeted a plane flying through a more efficient jurisdiction, the outcome would have been very different today.

Malaysia Flip Flop

Related:    

The Day When 2 Austrians Shut Down Singapore’s Airspace for 50 Minutes.

Relate posts:

 

Was Flight 370 remote-hijacked as Boeing has autopilot technology?


Autopilot tech

Boeing has patent for autopilot tech

PETALING JAYA: When it was first speculated that Flight MH370 could have been hijacked via remote control access, many dismissed it as far-fetched science fiction.

But the technology to navigate planes, ships, trains, buses and other vehicles by remote control has been around for about a decade.

The Boeing Company, the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, has the technology.

It owns a patent for a system that enables remote controlling of its aircraft to counter hijacking attempts.

Boeing applied for the patent for an “uninterruptible autopilot control system” about 11 years ago, and was awarded it in 2006.

The system can be activated when the security of onboard controls are jeopardised.

“The method and systems of the present invention provide techniques for automatically navigating, flying and landing an air vehicle,” states the report for the US patent number US7142971B2.

Once activated, an aircraft could be automatically navigated, flown and made to land without input from anyone on board.

“Any onboard capability to supercede the automatic control system may be disabled by disconnecting the onboard controls,” states the report.

Power is provided to the automatic control system “from an alternative power control element that is inaccessible (to anyone on board the vehicle)”.

According to the patent report, control commands could be received from a remote location and/or from predetermined control commands stored on board the plane.

Boeing applied for the patent on Feb 19, 2003, barely two years after the Sept 11 attack in which hijacked planes rammed into the World Trade Centre, reducing the gigantic buildings into rubble.

Eric D. Brown, Douglas C. Cameron, Krish R. Krothapalli, Walter von Klein Jr and Todd M. William invented the system for Boeing. The patent was awarded three years later on Nov 28, 2006.

When the automatic control system is activated, no one on board the aircraft would be capable of controlling its flight.

The patent report also states that a signal might be transmitted to at least one remote location from the plane to indicate that the uninterruptible autopilot mode of the air vehicle has been engaged.

The system includes a dedicated communication link between the aircraft and a remote location, distinct from any communication link established for other types of communication.

According to an independent analyst James Corbett, the US Federal Aviation Administration had reported on the Federal Registrar last November that the Boeing 777-200, -300 and –300ER aircraft were equipped with an electronics security system to check unauthorised internal access.

Contributed by Sira Habibu The Star/Asia News Network

 

“Flight 370 Was Remote-Hijacked”

 

Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang
Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang

A high-level Malaysian source has confirmed that missing Flight MH370 must have been hijacked by remote control.

Matthias Chang, a barrister who served as Political Secretary to the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, explained why only a remote-hijacking “fly by wire” scenario can explain the plane’s disappearance.

Read Matthias Chang’s MH 370 – A Sinister Tragedy In the Fog of Coincidence?

In an exclusive interview with Truth Jihad Radio, Chang – who remains well-connected with the highest political levels in Malaysia – patiently explained why all of the evidence points to a remote hijacking by one of the handful of countries capable of such a technological feat. He expressed annoyance with Western media criticism of the Malaysian government, arguing that it is Western governments, not Malaysia’s, that are covering up what they know while the media fails to ask the hard questions.

[The audio interview will be posted for Truthjihad.com subscribers by this evening here.]

During our interview on the morning of Friday April 4th (Malaysia time) Matthias Chang told me: “I want to raise a point that has not been much discussed in either the mainstream or alternative media, which is that the technology of autopilot has been in existence for a long time. Since September 11th, more sophisticated systems have been placed in all planes to avoid any hijackings. If there is a hijacking in progress it kicks in and flies to an airport to land safely. The system can be triggered by the pilot himself from the cockpit, or it can be triggered by ground control. And by ‘ground control’ I mean it can be operated from land, an AWAC plane, or a ship, by an entity that has the capability and technology to fly the plane remotely. That technology is out there.”

Chang pointed out that only remote-hijacking can explain the plane’s flight path: “This plane is flying for six hours on its own. Who’s flying the plane? The entity flying the plane must be those with the technology that’s used now to pilot drones. We know drones have been flown in Afghanistan from Florida. We have seen video tapes and news broadcasts about how ‘pilots’ in Florida are flying planes and drones in Afghanistan as if they are playing computer games.”

Chang explained that the Western media’s pilot suicide hypothesis “doesn’t hold water. If you’re a pilot, why turn back, go north to Thailand where there are military exercises going on, and you will know from the radar that other planes are flying, then turn south and fly for six hours? That’s ridiculous. Also, most suicides leave notes explaining why. This is another huge question mark. Why this accusation of the pilot, when the facts are inconsistent with suicide?”

Suggesting that the Western countries have been leading the public on a wild goose chase, Chang explained:

“During the past four weeks, we have heard of various countries providing data. Australia said there were two floating objects west of Perth, but when ships were sent they were not found. France, also, said they discovered two objects. When the search planes went, these too couldn’t be found. The satellite of Thailand (a US client state) found two objects. It was sea rubbish. This was followed by (US occupied) Japan saying they found objects. But those objects were not MH370s. The British firm Inmarsat, using its calculations, said the plane would have crashed in the area where the objects were located. But subsequently Boeing, doing new calculations projecting faster flight at lower altitude, said the plane could have ended somewhere 1000 miles north of the previously projected location.”

Were all of these people ordered to look in all the wrong places – by a military high command that knows perfectly well where the plane is?

Chang continues:

“Given all this information, it’s crystal clear, clear as day, that the one country that has the most sophisticated surveillance technology has remained mute. They may have given sealed evidence – I don’t know. But no public announcement.

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

“America has the most advanced satellites in the world…it can detect an object the size of a coin, look at bunkers buried deep underground. NROL 39 (the US National Reconnaissance Office) uses the octopus emblem. It states clearly that enemies of America cannot hide because ‘nothing is beyond our reach.’ The octopus’s tentacles encompass the whole globe. I find it very odd that America has been reticent, conspicuously silent, about what their satellites have shown, if anything.”

What makes it especially odd that the US will not admit it tracked the plane is that the flight path involved some of America’s most sensitive military areas:

“As MH370 reached the airspace of Vietnam it went north toward Thailand where the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises were being held. Then, allegedly, the plane ended in the Indian Ocean. But there is no evidence or debris. Now what is conspicuous…is that when a plane goes past Southern Thailand into the Indian Ocean, it has to fly past a very important landmark: Diego Garcia, a secretive US military base. It was from this base that the US launched bombers to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam before that. Surely this base has some of the most sophisticated surveillance technology. Any unidentified plane that flew in the direction of Diego Garcia would certainly be located and identified.”

Chang, the former top political advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, noted that the bizarre disappearance of MH370 coincided with the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises – just as previous “disasters” have mirrored suspiciously-timed drills and exercises:

“On 9/11, when planes struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, there were military exercises taking place, and NORAD and others were confused about whether the planes were part of the exercise or not.”

Chang was referring to the notorious 46 drills of September 11th 2001, the biggest pre-designated National Security Special Event Day in US history. Those exercises practiced and then mimicked every aspect of the actual attacks, including a live-fly plane-into-building exercise that shut down the National Reconnaissance Office and prevented NRO personnel from seeing satellite images of whatever the alleged attack planes and their military control planes, including the “Flying Pentagon” E-4B Command Center aircraft, were really doing that day.

Chang noted that the 7/7/2005 London bombings – like 9/11– perfectly mirrored drills that were occurring at exactly the same times and places:

“On 7/7 in London, there was a bombing of underground stations, plus the bus in Tavistock Square. Surprise surprise, four Muslim youth were said to be responsible for the deaths and injuries. Yet on that very day, there were terrorist bombing exercises at precisely the same four locations.”

YouTube – Veterans Today -

Chang observed that Christopher Bollyn, whose book Solving 9/11 implicates Israel and its US agents in the worst terrorist attack in US history, has discovered indications that the disappearance of MH370 might be connected with another false-flag plot: “Bollyn exposed how, immediately after the hijacking (of MH370), the Times of Israel put out propaganda that the plane was hijacked by agents of Iran, then landed in Bangladesh to weaponize the plane to carry out a diabolical attack like September 11th.” (Bollyn also discovered a suspicious “evil twin” of MH370 hidden in an Israeli hangar – his article is linked here.)

Chang said that the media’s focus on the search for the MH370′s black box is a deception. “We’ve been diverted to look for the black box. Bullshit! There are plenty of signals.” Chang asserts that both Boeing, a leading US military contractor, and the Rolls-Royce company that makes the plane’s engines, know exactly what happened to MH370, because they are constantly fed signals giving them every significant detail about all of their planes including exactly location, altitude, airspeed, engine function, manual or autopilot, and so on.

Regarding Rolls-Royce, Chang said:

“As long as the engine is running, they monitor it. If anything goes wrong with the engine for any reason, they land the plane and abort the flight. There have been a couple of instances when Rolls-Royce detected malfunctions and told the pilot to land as soon as possible due to the malfunction.

“So for six hours or more, Rolls-Royce would have kept track of the pings. Rolls-Royce would know where the plane’s going. Now I’m told, rightly or wrongly, that in the protocol, Rolls-Royce may be prohibited from disclosing this information.”

Likewise, Malaysia has been prevented from disclosing the sealed evidence it has been provided by one or more unnamed countries – or even the name of that country or countries.

But despite the gag order, Chang thinks the evidence speaks for itself: “There is cyber war between these (larger) countries, and we small countries are caught in the middle. I think the passengers were collateral damage.”

Chang’s conclusion about Flight 370?

“Under the cover of the military exercises, something diabolical, something catastrophic, has happened.”

 Sources Veterans Today Editor:

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.

Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.

Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.

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Philippines based Abu Sayyaf gunmen want RM36mil to free Chinese tourist, no ransom for Filipina


Chinese tourist_Gao Huayun1Gao Huayun
KUALA LUMPUR: Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen have demanded RM36.4mil for the release of a 29-year-old Chinese woman tourist whom they abducted from a resort off Semporna in Sabah, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He added that there had been no ransom demand for the other hostage, a 40-year-old Filipina resort worker.

“We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500 million pesos, equivalent to RM36.4mil, in ransom.

“We have sent our team, the police and negotiators to discuss with their so-called appointed middle person to negotiate about reducing the ransom,” he said after launching the “Message from Prison” segment of TV3’s Wanita Hari Ini programme here yesterday.

Gao Huayun and Marcy Daya­­­­wan were snatched from Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna on April 2.

One of the kidnappers is believed to be also involved in the abduction of a Taiwanese woman who was snatched on Pom Pom Island on Nov 15 last year after gunmen shot dead her husband.

To a question, Dr Ahmad Zahid denied that the Eastern Sabah Security Command was a failure, saying Esscom was merely carrying out its activities based on the Standard Operating Procedure that had been set for Esszon, the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

He added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a meeting recently with the members of the National Security Council on tightening security in the area.

“We are going to tighten the activities within Esszon … (more) equipment and assets are to be deployed within the Esszon area.”

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the police, military and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency were working together and collaborating with the Philippine coast guard, navy and military on further tightening security.

Zahid said they would seek the cooperation from the resort operators within the Esszon area and ask them to install high-security cameras.

“We are going to ask them to install high-definition CCTV in all their premises to prevent future activities by intruders or kidnappers,” he added.

Related stories:
Philippine authorities shocked by huge ransom demand
Amount ridiculous, say China netizens

Related post:

Chinese tourists abducted by Philippine terrorists to sour ties with China?

ese tourists abducted by Philippine terrorists to sour ties with China?

Chinese tourists abducted by Philippine terrorists, to sour ties with China?


Philippines Kidnapping_Gao

PERTH: Malaysia is not ruling out the possibility that the latest abduction case at a resort off Semporna was a deliberate act to sour the country’s relations with China, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the fact that one of those kidnapped was a Chinese national could complicate the situation further following the disappearance of MH370, which had mostly Chinese nationals on board.

“There may be those who are attempting to drive a wedge between China and us. They may be trying to take advantage of the situation,” Najib said after a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott at the Commonwealth Parlia­mentary Office here.

Najib, however, believes ties with China will remain strong despite the kidnap incident.

Najib said Malaysia had sought the cooperation of Filipino authorities on the matter, while police were investigating how the incident could have happened.

A news portal had reported that rebel group Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the abduction.

Filipino military sources told Rappler.com that the two women were taken by six former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members who had joined Abu Sayyaf.

In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has ordered that all available resources be directed towards solving the kidnapping case at a resort in Sem­porna.

He said the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek had briefed him on the kidnapping.

Kidnappers suspected to be Philippine militants

<< Video For the latest on the kidnapping, let´s go live to James Chau in the Malaysian capital Kuala L…

RM11.5mil the usual price for non-Filipino hostage

PETALING JAYA: The notorious Abu Sayyaf group believed to be responsible for the abduction of a Chinese and Philippine national in Sabah used to demand up to US$3.5mil (RM11.5mil) for the release of non-Filipino citizens, said a security analyst.

Prof Dr Aruna Gopinath who specialises in maritime security said the separatist group based at Basilan in the southern Philippines would typically charge a lower rate of three million pesos (RM219,000) for the release of Filipino citizens.

“The Abu Sayyaf are only interested in money and a ransom will have to be paid before they release their hostages,” she said.

Aruna said a Philippine reporter she knew was kidnapped by the group in 2011 and was held captive for 90 days.

“She met the Abu Sayyaf leaders in Basilan for an interview but was instead kidnapped by them, kept under guard in a house and given only water and two bananas three times a day.”

Philippines Kidnapping_Map

Aruna said a Philippine congressman eventually agreed to pay the ransom of three million pesos after which her friend was let go.

Another Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) breakaway group that specialises in kidnapping is the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which Malaysian authorities must be alert for, said Aruna.

In a related development, the Associated Press quoted a Philippine intelligence official yesterday as confirming that the kidnapping was the work of the Abu Sayyaf group.

He said Abu Sayyaf leaders were angry because they were not brought into the peace deal between the Philippine government and MILF.

The most recent in a long list of abductions blamed on the Abu Sayyaf prior to the incident in Sabah on Wednesday was the reported kidnapping of an elementary school principal in Basilan on Monday.

- The Star/Asia News Network

Related stories:

Cook: They were screaming for help
Police: Perpetrators may have had inside help
KL and Manila in hunt for gunmen
Gao’s mum gets sms just before attack
Websites show Singamata still popular with tourists
No fear, the tourists are still coming

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Flight MH370: two satellite objects spotted in southern Indian Ocean


MH370-Aussie Satellite objA satellite image shows possible debris from the missing Malaysian plane

Video: http://news.yahoo.com/video/malaysia-files-deleted-flight-simulator-110759544.html

Australia’s prime minister has announced that two objects possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight have been spotted on satellite imagery and an air force aircraft had been diverted to the area to try to locate them.

The Orion aircraft was expected to arrive in the area oon Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Tony Abott told Parliament in Canberra. Three additional aircraft are expected to follow for a more intensive search, he said.

Royal Australian Air Force pilot, Flight Lieutenant Russell Adams from the tenth Squadron, piolts his AP-3C Orion over the Southern Indian Ocean
 

“New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search … in the south Indian Ocean,” he said. “The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.”

“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified,” he said.

Mr Abbott said he had already spoken with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak and cautioned that the objects had yet to be identified.

“The task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out they are not related to the search for MH370,” he said.


An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) graphic shows the search areas for the Malaysia Airlines (AP)
 
No confirmed wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished from air traffic control screens off Malaysia’s east coast early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off.

The search for the plane was yesterday narrowed down to an area in the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of west Australia.


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott tells parliament in Canberra that satellite imagery has found two objects possibly related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
 
Investigators believe that someone with detailed knowledge of both the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial aviation navigation switched off the plane’s communications systems before diverting it thousands of miles off its scheduled course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Exhaustive background checks of the passengers and crew aboard have not yielded anything that might explain why.

Relatives of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are gathered at a television viewing room in Beijing, China (AFP/GETTY)

The FBI is helping Malaysian authorities analyse data from a flight simulator belonging to the captain of the missing plane, after initial examination showed some data logs had been deleted early last month.

- The Telegraph

Expert: Missing plane more likely found in southern corridor (Video)

An aviation expert believes there’s a high possibility that the missing plane could be found in the southern search corridor. But he added, it’s unlikely that the plane would have found a runway to safely land on.

http://english.cntv.cn/program/china24/20140320/100577.shtml

“Plane unlikely to avoid radar detection in Northern corridor…also zero possibility for the plane to land in a temporary airport, technically it works, but it’s very hard, requires geological conditions, and people on board will suffer heavy injuries.” Armartya De, Sr. Aviation Consultant of Frost & Sullivan, said.

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NSA’s secret MYSTIC system is capable recording 100% of foreign country’s telephone calls


NSA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine – one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

http://wapo.st/1gyqVaz

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.” Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage.

At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

No other NSA program disclosed to date has swallowed a nation’s telephone network whole. Outside experts have sometimes described that prospect as disquieting but remote, with notable implications for a growing debate over the NSA’s practice of “bulk collection” abroad.

Bulk methods capture massive data flows “without the use of discriminants,” as President Barack Obama put it in January. By design, they vacuum up all the data they touch – meaning that most of the conversations collected by RETRO would be irrelevant to U.S. national security interests.

In the view of U.S. officials, however, the capability is highly valuable.

In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on “specific alleged intelligence activities.” Speaking generally, she said “new or emerging threats” are “often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an emailed statement, said that “continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate U.S. foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.”

Some of the documents provided by Snowden suggest that high-volume eavesdropping may soon be extended to other countries, if it has not been already. The RETRO tool was built three years ago as a “unique one-off capability,” but last year’s secret intelligence budget named five more countries for which the MYSTIC program provides “comprehensive metadata access and content,” with a sixth expected to be in place by last October.

The budget did not say whether the NSA now records calls in quantity in those countries, or expects to do so. A separate document placed high priority on planning “for MYSTIC accesses against projected new mission requirements,” including “voice.”

Ubiquitous voice surveillance, even overseas, pulls in a great deal of content from U.S. citizens who telephone, visit and work in the target country. It may also be seen as inconsistent with Obama’s Jan. 17 pledge “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security,” regardless of nationality, “and that we take their privacy concerns into account.”

In a presidential policy directive, Obama instructed the NSA and other agencies that bulk acquisition may be used only to gather intelligence on one of six specified threats, including nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The directive, however, also noted that limits on bulk collection “do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection.”

The emblem of the MYSTIC program depicts a cartoon wizard with a telephone-headed staff. Among the agency’s bulk collection programs disclosed over the past year, its focus on the spoken word is unique. Most of the programs have involved the bulk collection of either metadata – which does not include content – or text, such as email address books.

Telephone calls are often thought to be more ephemeral and less suited than text for processing, storage and search. Indeed, there are indications that the call-recording program has been hindered by the NSA’s limited capacity to store and transmit bulky voice files.

In the first year of its deployment, a program officer wrote that the project “has long since reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more than the bandwidth could handle.”

Because of similar capacity limits across a range of collection programs, the NSA is leaping forward with cloud-based collection systems and a gargantuan new “mission data repository” in Utah. According to its overview briefing, the Utah facility is designed “to cope with the vast increases in digital data that have accompanied the rise of the global network.”

Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said history suggests that “over the next couple of years they will expand to more countries, retain data longer and expand the secondary uses.”

Spokesmen for the NSA and the Office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declined to confirm or deny expansion plans or discuss the criteria for any change.

Based on RETRO’s internal reviews, the NSA has strong motive to deploy it elsewhere. In the documents and interviews, U.S. officials said RETRO is uniquely valuable when an analyst first uncovers a new name or telephone number of interest.

With up to 30 days of recorded conversations in hand, the NSA can pull an instant history of the subject’s movements, associates and plans. Some other U.S. intelligence agencies also have access to RETRO.

Highly classified briefings cite examples in which the tool offered high-stakes intelligence that would not have existed under traditional surveillance programs in which subjects were identified for targeting in advance. Unlike most of the government’s public claims about the value of controversial programs, the briefings supply names, dates, locations and fragments of intercepted calls in convincing detail.

Present and former U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide context for a classified program, acknowledged that large numbers of conversations involving U.S. citizens would be gathered from the country where RETRO operates.

The NSA does not attempt to filter out their calls, defining them as communications “acquired incidentally as a result of collection directed against appropriate foreign intelligence targets.”

Until about 20 years ago, such incidental collection was unusual unless a U.S. citizen was communicating directly with a foreign intelligence target. In bulk collection systems, which are exponentially more capable than the ones in use throughout the Cold War, calls and other data from U.S. citizens and permanent residents are regularly ingested by the millions.

Under the NSA’s internal “minimization rules,” those intercepted communications “may be retained and processed” and included in intelligence reports. The agency generally removes the names of U.S. callers, but there are several broadly worded exceptions.

An independent group tasked by the White House to review U.S. surveillance policies recommended that incidentally collected U.S. calls and emails – including those obtained overseas – should nearly always “be purged upon detection.” Obama did not accept that recommendation.

Vines, in her statement, said the NSA’s work is “strictly conducted under the rule of law.”

RETRO and MYSTIC are carried out under Executive Order 12333, the traditional grant of presidential authority to intelligence agencies for operations outside the United States.

Since August, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and others on that panel have been working on plans to assert a greater oversight role for intelligence gathering abroad. Some legislators are now considering whether Congress should also draft new laws to govern those operations.

Experts say there is not much legislation that governs overseas intelligence work.

“Much of the U.S. government’s intelligence collection is not regulated by any statute passed by Congress,” said Timothy H. Edgar, the former director of privacy and civil liberties on Obama’s national security staff. “There’s a lot of focus on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is understandable, but that’s only a slice of what the intelligence community does.”

All surveillance must be properly authorized for a legitimate intelligence purpose, he said, but that “still leaves a gap for activities that otherwise basically aren’t regulated by law because they’re not covered by FISA.”

Beginning in 2007, Congress loosened 40-year-old restrictions on domestic surveillance because so much foreign data crossed U.S. territory. There were no comparable changes to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and residents whose calls and emails now routinely cross international borders.

Vines noted that the NSA’s job is to “identify threats within the large and complex system of modern global communications,” where ordinary people share fiber-optic cables with legitimate intelligence targets.

For Peter Swire, a member of the president’s review group, the fact that U.S. citizens and foreigners use the same devices, software and networks calls for greater care to safeguard privacy.

“It’s important to have institutional protections so that advanced capabilities used overseas don’t get turned against our democracy at home,” he said.

© 2014, The Washington Post/http://www.ticotimes.net

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If MH370 was a hijack bid, it was a terrorism motivated; China deploys 21 satellites and 11 ships search aid


MH370-AltitudeIt is increasingly common for terrorist groups not to claim responsibility for their actions, a leading expert says, amid heightened speculation one or both of the pilots may have been involved in diverting Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Greg Barton, the international director of the global terrorism research centre at Monash University, said there were several reasons a terrorist group might remain silent about hijacking the flight.

”Perhaps this operation was only partially successful, and that the plan had been to turn back and crash into the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur,” Professor Barton said. ”Perhaps the pilots foiled the plan, we will never know.

”But that would be a motive for a group not to claim it, as they may want to try it again,” he said.
Conjecture over pilot involvement in the plane’s disappearance was fuelled on Sunday by a new timeline suggesting the flight’s signalling system was disabled before a pilot spoke to air traffic control without mentioning any trouble.

But whether it was an act of terrorism remains a question that may not be answered unless the black box flight recorders are found.

Professor Barton cited the 1988 Lockerbie disaster, in which Pan Am flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb over a Scottish town, killing 270 people, as an example of an attack no one admitted ordering.

”It also took quite a while for al-Qaeda to claim responsibility for 9/11,” Professor Barton said. ”And in the November 2008 attacks at several Mumbai hotels, Lashkar- e- Taiba was blamed but never actually claimed it,” he said.

Clive Williams, a visiting professor at the Australian National University’s centre for military and security law and an adjunct professor at Macquarie University’s centre for policing, intelligence and counter terrorism said while terrorism could not be ruled out, it seemed less likely than other possibilities.

”Terrorism is by definition politically motivated with a strategic outcome in mind. If terrorism was the motivation you would expect that the perpetrators would have already used the plane as a weapon against a possible target, such as Mumbai or Colombo, would have made political demands, or would have tried to put pressure on a target government.”

Since 2000 there have been only 18 hijacks or attempted hijacks of large passenger aircraft. Of these, seven were by passengers wanting to get to a destination to seek asylum, one was criminally motivated to steal the cargo, six were by mentally ill persons, and four were politically motivated (counting September 11 as one incident), Professor Williams said.

By Anne Davies The Sydney Morning Herald

11 Chinese ships team up in Singapore for search mission (Video)

It has been 11 days since the Malaysian flight MH370 went missing. 239 passengers were on board the … 

China deploys 21 satellites to assist hunt for MH370

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MH370 flight confirms: “deliberate acts”, suggest hijacking and terrorism planning, crew under scrutiny


MH370-Najib Conf Malaysian PM confirms that deliberate acts were involved in the plane’s disappearance

Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning

Flight MH370 weighs 250 tonnes, spans more than 60 metres and has been hunted by search teams from more than a dozen countries, but after more than a week the search for missing Malaysian Airlines jet is becoming vastly bigger. And vastly more complicated, amid suggestions of a “deliberate act” to take it off course.

The expansion came after leaked reports from US officials, suggestions of terrorism and the revelation from Malaysia’s Prime Minister that investigators believed new satellite data showed “deliberate action by someone on the plane” had flown the aircraft and it’s 239 passengers and crew of course for up to seven hours.

Speaking at a press conference in the Malaysian capital, Najib Razak said: “Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility… we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.”

He added that, based on the data, investigators were now pursuing the belief that the plane’s last location was along one of two possible corridors or arcs – a northern route stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern one stretching from Indonesia to the vast emptiness of the Indian ocean.


Click here for enlarged view of graphic

And as police raided homes of the pilot and co-pilot, the Prime Minister said that, while investigators were still exploring “all possibilities”, attention was increasingly being focused on the possible role of the passengers or crew of the plane

This weekend Malaysian officials, along with experts from the US National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, continue to refine the new data, which originated from signals sent by the plane via the British company Inmarsat’s satellite network over the Indian Ocean. The Independent on Sunday understands that these signals came from a “failsafe” function of an Inmarsat Swift 64 communications system fitted to the ill-fated aircraft.

The announcement by Mr Najib was the most definitive suggestion that investigators were exploring a possible hijacking or terrorism.

Aviation consultant Chris Yates said: “It’s increasingly clear that the hand of some form of terrorism is at play here, whether from a group or one skilled individual. The levels of specialist aviation knowledge on display here cause me to cast my mind back to 9/11 when hijackers had acquired a level of technical and flight training.”

David Gleave, a former air crash investigator, added that any terrorist seizure of the plane “would have required one hell of a piece of planning”.

MH370_Fariq house

The home of Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, the first officer on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, about 15 miles west of Kuala Lumpur. Credit Lai Seng Sin/Associated Press 

Police drove to the residential compound in Kuala Lumpur where the missing plane's pilot Fariq Abdul Hami lives, according a guard and local reporters

Police drove to the residential compound in Kuala Lumpur where the missing plane’s pilot Fariq Abdul Hami lives, according a guard and local reporters  

Phil Giles, a former air safety investigator who worked on the Lockerbie Bombing, said: “Taking over a Boeing 777 without experience or skill is akin to some Somalian bloke in a tiny boat trying to take over a super tanker and captain it. Unless the hijacker has a fair amount of technical and aviation knowledge he would have to rely on putting a gun to the pilot’s head.”

In Malaysia this new information meant an end to the search in the South China Sea and a renewed focus on the Indian Ocean. At the same time officials were continuing to get radar data and other relevant information from the countries whose air space the two routes being examined pass through. The northern corridor would trace a busy route, passing northern Thailand and Burma and entering into China on the way towards central Asia.

The southern route, meanwhile, would pass over Indonesia and then the open waters of the southern Indian Ocean. The New York Times reported that officials believed the southern corridor to be the most likely to have been taken by the plane. “The US Navy would not be heading toward Kazakhstan,” a person briefed on the investigation told the paper.

Other have suggested the complexity of the search and sensitivity of military radar and satellite information may have been a cause of delay, pointing to the fact that American newspapers have been briefed by the Pentagon and that the destroyer USS Kidd and a P-8 Poseidon search plane moved into the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal prior the Malaysian government’s announcement on Saturday.

Tony Cable, an investigator who worked for the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch for 32 years, said: “The sensitivity of some of the military radar and satellite information here is clearly posing a problem for the investigation…. I suspect there is an awful lot more information that is known that is not being released.”

The last confirmed location of MH370 on civilian radar off Malaysia was at 1.31am last Saturday, about 40 minutes after it took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At that point it was heading north-east across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand on what should have been a six-hour flight to Beijing.

After that it seemed the plane disappeared from civilian radar but showed up – as a blip – on radar used by the Malaysian military. The latest revelation shows that the Boeing 777 continued to leave the faintest traces, in a series of “pings” from its Inmarsat Swift 64 system.

This 20-year-old communications is device fitted to 90 per cent of the world’s wide body jet aircraft and in the case of MH370 enhanced the operation of the aircraft’s flight transponder and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), both of which were deliberately deactivated early in the flight.

The IoS understands that the disabling of the ACARS system enabled a failsafe “ping” mode in the Swift 64 system, which has been compared to an “I’m here” announcement. The last of these messages came at  8.11am local time last Saturday, more than seven-and-a-half hours after it took off.

When fully operational Flight MH370′s ACARS and Swift 64 only offer very basic altitude and location information and The IoS understands the aircraft wasn’t fitted with more sophisticated equipment on sale, which would have allowed investigators to gain a full GPS fix.

Communication between the aircraft and satellites is only possible when the plane is airborne and the final transmission however would have come towards the very end of flight MH370′s endurance – officials in Kuala Lumpur said the plane was carrying sufficient fuel for 8 hours.

However through analysis of the position and view of the receiving geostationary Inmarsat satellite over the Indian Ocean has allowed officials to plot a “rough calculation” of the two “arcs” the plane may have taken, which has led to increased search emphasis on the Indian Ocean and wild speculation the aircraft may have travelled as far as Kazakhstan.

The revelations were reportedly welcomed by relatives of the passengers in China, who believe the development keeps alive the hope they may somehow be reunited with their loved ones. However the government in Beijing – which has 153 citizens on board the flight – urged Malaysia to continue providing it with “thorough and exact information” on the search, state news agency Xinhua said.

- The Independence

Passengers and Crew of Missing Plane Scrutinized for Aviation Skills – Missing MH370: Crew and passengers under scrutiny 

Heavily guarded: Security personnel keeping a strict watch over the gated community in Laman Seri where Capt Zaharie resides. – Bernama

PETALING JAYA: As investigators search for clues about the person who turned off MH370’s communications system, police are looking into the crew and passengers again, this time paying close attention to those with aviation expertise.

Intelligence sources said investigations would include political and religious leanings, as well as travel patterns of those on board.

Minute details, such as hobbies and behavioural patterns, will also be put under the microscope as the investigations now focused on hijack.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of policemen conducted a search at Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s house in Shah Alam.

Three policemen in an MPV were seen at the gated community in Section 13 at around 2.40pm. They left at 4.45pm.

It was unclear if they took away a flight simulator from the house.

Malaysia Airlines employees said a few pilots did have flight simulators in their homes but claimed that Capt Zaharie’s was one of the most impressive sets.

Capt Zaharie had previously posted on German online forum X-Sim.de that he had built a flight simulator himself.

“About a month ago I finished assembly of FSX and FS9 with 6 monitors,” read his message, which was signed off as Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines in November 2012.

Checks revealed that FSX and FS9 are over-the-counter flight simulator games made by Microsoft. These can easily be bought online.

According to some family friends, Capt Zaharie’s family had moved out a few days ago after MH370 went missing.

According to MAS employees, a driver had told them that Capt Zaharie kept to himself while being driven to the KLIA for the flight.

He had studied aviation at the Philippine Airlines Aviation School in Pasay City in 1980. 

He joined Malaysia Airlines a year later.

The Penangite became a captain in the early 1990s and has 18,360 flying hours under his belt.

His colleagues described him as a jovial and professional “aviation geek” who collected remote-controlled miniature aircraft, light twin engine helicopters and amphibious aircraft.

Outside of aviation, he runs a YouTube channel dedicated to DIY projects, where he teaches viewers how to fix home appliances like air-conditioners.

The same group of policemen also conducted a search at MH370 co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid’s house a few hours after searching Capt Zaharie’s house.

Police arrived at Fariq’s house at Section 7 here around 8.05pm and left about an hour later.
It was unclear if anything was taken from the house.

- The Star/Asia News Network

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Chinese satellite images show possible MH370 floating objects


MH370_Satelite floating Images
<<Video: Chinese officials have released satellite images of possible crash site of the missing images
Chinese officials have released satellite images of possible crash site of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner. The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence announced the discovery on Wednesday, saying pictures obtained on Sunday showed three suspected floating objects. They measured 13 by 18 meters, 14 by 19 meters and 24 by 22 meters.
The objects were observed in waters between Malaysia and Vietnam. All previous reports of debris since Flight MH-370 disappeared have proved to be unrelated to the plane. Some 10 Chinese satellites have been used to help the search and rescue operation.


 Criticism mounts of ‘chaotic’ search for plane

A well-known Malaysian ëbomohí (shaman), Ibrahim Mat Zin offering to locate the missing plane using a spiritual method and prayers, arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Malaysia faced a storm of criticism over contradictions and information gaps in the hunt for a missing airliner. Photo: AFP

China urged Malaysia on Wednesday to release “authoritative and detailed” information about the missing Malaysian plane through a unified channel in a timely manner, amid criticism of Malaysia for their confused reaction.

Expressing appreciation for Malaysia’s sincere attitude and active efforts, Guo Shaochun, leader of the Chinese government joint work team, urged Malaysia to listen seriously and respond quickly to the reasonable appeals of the missing passengers’ relatives.

“China asks for a unified channel on the Malaysian side to release authoritative and detailed information on the issue in a timely manner,” said Guo at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Malaysian air force Chief General Rodzali Daud Wednesday denied a local media report that quoted him as saying that the missing MH370 was last detected at 2:40 am Saturday by the air force in the vicinity of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca before the signal disappeared.

Rodzali said that the radar tracking was at 2:15 am and to the northwest of Penang Island on Malaysia’s west coast, adding that it was an “unidentified object.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang also said Wednesday that information about the missing plane was “chaotic.”

He urged Malaysia to take primary responsibility in communication and coordination in the joint search efforts, and “give the passengers’ relatives and the international community an answer as soon as possible.”

The successful boarding of two Iranian citizens using stolen passports and the released photos showing them photoshopped on to the same lower body drew criticism of the Malaysian government.

“It has badly damaged its national image. Rumors could easily grow under such circumstances, as could fear. This may turn out to be a fiasco for Malaysia in handling the crisis at the present stage,” Steven Dong, a professor from the Communication University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times. He added that the country’s aviation management system was also flawed, with passengers reportedly allowed into the cockpit.

Uncertainty has allegedly halted Vietnam’s search mission, which was then denied by Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army. The Vietnam Ministry of Transport on Wednesday also criticized the slack response of Malaysia.

Malaysia said 42 ships and 39 aircraft have been deployed so far in the search, with India, Japan and Brunei joining the multinational hunt for the missing plane.

China’s third military aircraft arrived in the Gulf of Thailand on Wednesday to join its eight vessels in the black box signal probe, with more ships expected.

One of China’s satellites detected objects suspected to be floating materials, Chinese authorities said.

Meanwhile, a badly damaged raft was found by local fishermen near the west coast of Malaysia and villagers on the east side of the country reported to police they heard a loud noise that sounded like the fan of a jet engine around 1:20 am on Saturday, according to local media.

Zhuang Guotu, dean of the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that it may not be fair to overly blame Malaysia, whose administration efficiency is at the intermediate level within Asia.

“We have seen its immediate response to the search for the plane after it went missing. It is understandable that people get anxious when little progress has been made, but Malaysia is a developing country with limited manpower,” Zhuang noted.

- Contributed by Jiang Jie Global Times

 China forces to search 19,768 sq km for missing jet
 (updated by 11:50 on March 13)

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MH370 mystery: missing plane’s pilot joked with female passengers in cockpit at 30,000ft, focus shift to Thai gangs


Criticised for contradictory statements, slow reactions and a lack of information, the “incompetence” of Malaysian authorities in communicating effectively during a crisis on the scale of its missing jet is painfully evident, analysts say.

Last radio transmission from the cockpit of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was ‘Alright, good night’ as the plane switched from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace 
MH370_Co-PilotFariq Abdul Hamid invited two women into the cockpit of a of Malaysian airlines flight

A CO-PILOT at the controls of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 invited a Melbourne tourist and her friend into the cockpit where he smoked, took photos and entertained the pair during a previous international flight. 
 
In a worrying lapse of security, it’s been revealed pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid and his colleague broke Malaysia Airline rules when they invited passengers Jonti Roos and Jaan Maree to join them in the cabin for the one-hour flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur.

Ms Roos, who is travelling around Australia, told A Current Affair she and Ms Maree posed for pictures with the pilots, who smoked cigarettes during the midair rendezvous.

“Throughout the entire flight they were talking to us and they were actually smoking throughout the flight which I don’t think they’re allowed to do,” Ms Roos said.

MH370_Co-Pilot2Happy snap … Jonti Roos and Jaan Maree with co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, right, in December 2011. Picture: A Current Affair. Source: Supplied
 

“At one stage they were pretty much turned around the whole time in their seats talking to us.

“They were so engaged in conversation that he took my friends hand and he was looking at her palm and said ‘your hand is very creased. That means you’re a very creative person’ and commented on her nail polish.”

Mr Hamid identified the South African nationals as they waited in the boarding queue at Phuket airport in December 2011.

As they took their seats on the aircraft, an air steward approached the women and invited them to join the pilots in the cockpit.

Despite pictures exposing the gross misconduct of the distracted pilots, Ms Roos said she wasn’t concerned for her safety.

“I did feel safe. I don’t think there was one instance where I felt threatened or I felt that they didn’t know what they were doing,” she said.

The whole time I felt they were very friendly. I felt they were very competent in what they were doing.

Not camera shy … Jonti Roos and Jaan Maree in the cockpit of a Malaysia Airlines flight from Phuket to KL in December 2011. Picture: A Current Affair. Source: Supplied
 

“We wished they (would) stop smoking because it is such a confined space. But you can’t exactly tell a pilot to stop smoking.”

The plucky pilots reportedly wanted Ms Roos and Ms Maree to change their travel arrangements and extend their stay in Kuala Lumpur and join them on a night on the town.

Ms Roos said she was shocked to learn Mr Hamid was at the helm of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight.
“I thought it was crazy. I was just completely shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“When I saw all his friends and family posting on his wall my heart really broke for them and my heart broke for the family of the passengers. It’s just a really sad story.”

Malaysia Airlines issued a statement about the incident late last night.

“Malaysia Airlines has become aware of the allegations being made against First Officer, Fariq Ab Hamid which we take very seriously.” the statement said.

“We are shocked by these allegations.

“We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident.

“As you are aware, we are in the midst of a crisis, and we do not want our attention to be diverted.

“We also urge the media and general public to respect the privacy of the families of our colleagues and passengers. It has been a difficult time for them.

“The welfare of both the crew and passenger’s families remain our focus. At the same time, the security and safety of our passengers is of the utmost importance to us.”

Special access … Jaan Maree in the cockpit of a Malaysia Airlines flight in December 2011. Picture: A Current Affair. Source: Supplied
 

POLICE RELEASE IDENTITY OF ONE STOLEN PASSPORT HOLDER

One of the men travelling with a stolen passport on the Malaysia Airlines flight that mysteriously disappeared has been identified as a 19-year-old Iranian seeking asylum in Europe.

This comes as police downplayed the possibility of terrorist involvement in the disappearance of MH370 — giving four areas of investigation: hijack, sabotage, psychological or personal problems among the passengers and crew.

Malaysian police tonight said the man was Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, and intelligence suggested he was not likely to be a member of any terrorist group.

Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said Mehrdad was travelling on a stolen Austrian passport and was planning to meet up with his mother in Frankfurt.

The second passenger using a stolen passport has not been identified yet.

Revealed ... a Malaysian police official displays photographs of the two men who boarded
Revealed … a Malaysian police official displays photographs of the two men who boarded the Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight using stolen European passports to the media. Source: AFP
 

However, he said police were still considering all possibilities in terms of criminal involvement in the plane’s disappearance, when asked whether police thought the revelation made them consider terrorism less likely in the case.

DID FLIGHT MH370 STALL BEFORE CRASHING?
 
“At this moment, I would not say less likely. Same weightage to all until we finish our investigations,” Khalid said.

He also contradicted an earlier statement made by Malaysia’s aviation chief that five people did not board the plane, saying they did not exist and everyone who booked a seat was on the flight.

FISHERMAN SAW ‘LOW FLYING LIGHTS’ 

Authorities are also investigating several reports of locals claiming to have seen the lights of a low-flying aircraft in an area off the Malaysian coast, just below the Malay-Thai border.

It is this area which is now included in the widened search area for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

A fisherman who was in his boat at sea, says that at about 1.30am he saw the lights of a low-flying aircraft in the area of Kuala Besar.

Azid Ibrahim told The Star newspaper in Malaysia that the plane was flying so low that the lights were “as big as coconuts”.

And another man, about 30km south of Kota Bharu, is reported to have seen “bright white lights” from what he thought was a fast-descending aircraft at about 1.45am on Saturday morning.

He has since reported what he saw to authorities after seeing the lights from his home that evening.

THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES OF MISSING FLIGHT MH370
 
DESPERATE SEARCH FOR MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH370
 
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that the search and rescue teams (SAR) have expanded the scope beyond the flight path to the West Peninsular of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca. The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang.

The search sphere now includes land on the Malaysian peninsula itself, the waters off its west coast and an area to the north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, an area far removed from flight MH370’s scheduled route.

The news of the search being widened comes as Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department said it had received a report from the crew of a Cathay Pacific plane flying from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur at about 3pm Saturday that more debris was spotted near Vung Tau, off southeast Vietnam, The South China Morning Post reports.

It is not known if the debris is from the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

Prayer ... Students in East China pray for the passengers from the missing Malaysia Airli
Prayer … Students in East China pray for the passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Picture: Twitter Source: Supplied
 

As the search for the missing Boeing 777 continues into its fourth day, it also emerged that the aeroplane underwent maintenance on February 23, 12 days before it went missing bound for Beijing, China.

“The maintenance was conducted at the KLIA hangar and there were no issues on the health of the aircraft,” Malaysia Airlines said. Its next check was due on June 19.

Fisherman saw ‘low-flying lights’
In limbo … Sarah Nor, 55, the mother of 34-year-old Norliakmar Hamid, a passenger on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Source: AFP
 

FINGERPRINTS BEING ANALYSED BY FBI

In other news, fingerprints from the mystery passengers travelling on missing Flight MH370 with stolen passports are being analysed by the FBI as it emerged they were reportedly Iranians looking for a new life in Europe.

The men are believed to have bought the fake travel documents because they were “looking for a place to settle” and it is thought their plane tickets were purchased in Thailand by an Iranian middleman known as “Mr Ali”.

The news came as officials reacted with scepticism to a claim of responsibility for the plane’s disappearance from a previously unheard of Chinese terror group.

mobile3

 
READ MORE: SHADOWY GROUP CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY
 
With authorities still scratching their heads about exactly what has happened to the Malaysia Airlines flight and conflicting information deepening the anguish of relatives, much of the focus of the investigation has fallen on those on board.

Director-general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, revealed late last night that the two men travelling on stolen passports were not Asian-looking as had been earlier speculated.

He said they had passed through all “security protocols” before boarding the flight, which disappeared with 239 passengers on board, including six Australians, in the early hours of Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Guo Shaochun
Under pressure … an official in Malaysia is besieged by journalists. Source: AP
 

“We have looked at the footage of the video and the photographs and it is confirmed now that they are not Asian-looking men,” Mr Rahman told a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

“They have gone through screening, their baggage has been screened, their cabin baggage has been screened and they complied fully with the protocols of immigration security.”

READ MORE: TEARS FLOW FOR MISSING AUSSIES
 
The CCTV footage in question has reportedly been given to international security agencies and is expected to be released publicly at some stage.

He said authorities were now investigating the possibility of a stolen passport syndicate but he would not be drawn on what the mystery men looked like.

Initial reports that Mr Rahman had implied the men looked like African-Italian soccer star Mario Balotelli were clarified by Malaysia this afternoon.

Officials pointed out that Mr Rahman was actually saying a person’s appearance is not necessarily a reliable indicator of their nationality, using the footballer as an example.

Balotelli is Italian, having been born in Italy to Ghanaian parents.

Unwitting example ... AC Milan footballer Mario Balotelli.
Unwitting example … AC Milan footballer Mario Balotelli. Source: AFP
 

Two European names were on the passenger list for the missing flight but neither Christian Kozel, an Austrian, nor Luigi Maraldi from Italy, ever boarded the plane — instead two passengers used their passports, which had been stolen from the men in separate incidents in Thailand.

LOOKING FOR A NEW LIFE

A man who says he is a friend of the two unidentified passengers has now told how they were Iranian nationals who travelled to Kuala Lumpur from Tehran several days ago.

According to London’s Daily Telegraph, the unnamed friend told BBC Persia that the pair bought the stolen passports in the Malaysian capital as well as tickets to Amsterdam via Beijing.

BBC Persia’s UN correspondent Bahman Kalbasi
The BBC’s Bahman Kalbasi Source: Supplied
 

One of the men wanted to eventually end up in Frankfurt, where his mother lives, while the other wanted to travel to Denmark.

BBC Persia’s UN correspondent Bahman Kalbasi said he was told the pair were “looking for a place to settle”.

READ MORE: RELATIVES CALL MOBILES OF PASSENGERS

Malaysia and neighbouring Thailand, where the passports were originally stolen, ho
st large and established Iranian communities.

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that the duo’s tickets had been arranged for by an Iranian known only as “Mr Ali”. According to Thai police, his full name is Kazem Ali.

A travel agent in Thailand told the newspaper that Mr Ali first asked her to book cheap tickets to Europe for the pair on March 1.

The tickets expired before Mr Ali called her again last Thursday to rebook them on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. A friend of Mr Ali’s paid cash for the tickets.

Benjaporn Krutnait, owner of the Grand Horizon travel agency in Thailand, said she had known the Iranian for about three years and he had booked tickets through her agency before.

There is no evidence Mr Ali knew the two men were travelling on stolen passports and, according to NBC News, he has come forward to authorities after learning they were under suspicion.

He is currently believed to be in Iran.

Authorities have made no comment on these reports but Thai police are thought to have visited two Pattaya travel agencies on Monday, who are believed to be involved in selling the tickets.

ANALYSING THE INTELLIGENCE

Malaysian authorities have released thumbprints of the pair that were taken at the airport check-in at Kuala Lumpur to intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world.

“They will compare that to what we have in our terrorist databases. These are lists of people on no-fly lists, people with possible terrorist connections, people we have reasons to be suspicious of,” US lawmaker Peter King told CNN.

“We have these listings, and those names and those biometrics will be compared to those.” Images of the men has also been shared.

READ MORE: WHY THE BLACK BOX WON’T HELP
 
There has been no further update on the five passengers who checked in for flight MH370 but didn’t board the plane. They had their luggage removed from the hold.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said they were being investigated but he didn’t say whether this was suspicious.

Aviation industry figures said five passengers failing to board an international flight was not unusual.

Searching ... Indonesian Navy pilots looking for the missing plane.
Searching … Indonesian Navy pilots looking for the missing plane. Source: AP
 

“To have that many people — five to 10 — as no-shows is relatively common, particularly if they are connecting from elsewhere,” they said.

They said a passenger’s failure to board can simply be the result of a late connecting flight, a missed connection or simply changing their mind. If anything, they said it was an increasing problem due to the popularity of online check-in, which allows a passenger to register their intention to board the flight up to several days ahead.

While there has been a claim of responsibility of some kind for the disappearance of the flight by a shadowy group called the Chinese Martyrs’ Brigade, officials are sceptical and have said it could be a hoax.

The group — unheard of before now — on Sunday sent an email to journalists across China that read: “You kill one of our clan, we will kill 100 of you as payback,” but the message provided no other details.

Prayers ... candles are lit in Kuala Lumpur to send a message of hope.
Prayers … candles are lit in Kuala Lumpur to send a message of hope. Source: AP
 

CRIMINAL HUB FOCUS

Thailand’s role as a hub for criminal networks using false documents is now in the spotlight after the stolen passports sparked fears of a terror attack.

The revelation has triggered a probe by Malaysian authorities, who are working with other intelligence agencies including the FBI.

READ MORE: DAUGHTER’S TWEETS TO MISSING FATHER
 
“Thailand has been used by some international terrorist groups as a zone of operation, to raise funds or to plan attacks,’’ said Rommel Banlaoi, an analyst on terrorism in South-East Asia.

In 2010, two Pakistanis and a Thai woman were arrested in Thailand on suspicion of making false passports for al Qaeda-linked groups, as part of an international operation linked to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai and the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

In shock ... relatives of passengers from the missing flight in Beijing.
In shock … relatives of passengers from the missing flight in Beijing. Source: AFP
 

But Banlaoi stressed that the false passports used on the Malaysia flight “could also be linked to other criminal activities, like illegal immigration’’.

“Thailand is a destination for international crime organisations who use it to secure travel documents, financial documents,’’ a Thai intelligence source said.
READ MORE: STOLEN PASSPORTS REVEAL SECURITY LOOPHOLE
 
“It’s not just linked to terrorism but to other crimes. It’s a complex network, connected to other networks.’’

TRACKING STOLEN PASSPORTS TRAIL

The intricate web of clues surrounding the stolen passports includes Thais and foreigners, passport thieves, counterfeiters, intermediaries and clients, Banlaoi said.

Thai police have announced an investigation into a possible passport racket on the resort island of Phuket — Maraldi’s passport was stolen there in 2013 and Kozel’s on a flight from Phuket to Bangkok, according to authorities in Vienna.

Message of hope ... a poster carrying words of support for the passengers.
Message of hope … a poster carrying words of support for the passengers. Source: AFP
 

Flight information seen by the AFP news agency shows that two tickets in Kozel and Maraldi’s names were issued in Pattaya, a beach resort south of Bangkok, on March 6, 2014, and were paid for in Thai baht.

READ MORE: PASSENGER LIST A RICH HUMAN TAPESTRY
 
Geographically well-placed and with a major international airport, Thailand is best known for being a hub for drug and wildlife trafficking, including elephant ivory from Africa.

But it also supplies documents to illegal immigrants moving within or passing through the region.

what we know update

The route of the two unknown MH370 passengers — from Kuala Lumpur via Beijing then on to Europe — was “a typical path’’ for illegal immigrants, one diplomatic source said, adding that a large proportion of passports stolen from tourists in Thailand were then used for illegal immigration.

“They (the passports) are genuine, so they find someone who looks like the owner, or they falsify the first page,’’ the source said.

The ease with which police officials can be paid off also helped the industry to thrive.

“The police can turn a blind eye if you have the money,’’ he added.

New scope ... Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Department
New scope … Mr Rahman briefs the media with the latest. Source: Getty Images
 

SEARCH PROVES FRUITLESS

The search effort for the missing plane, involving at least 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries, has been widened to a 100-nautical mile (185-kilometre) radius from the point the plane vanished from radar screens between Malaysia and Vietnam early Saturday with no distress signal.

READ MORE: THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
 
Despite their best efforts, search teams have so far failed to find any trace of actual debris.

Laboratory analysis of oil samples from slicks spotted in the days after the disappearance showed they were not from the Malaysia Airlines jet but were a type of fuel used by ships, the Maritime Enforcement Agency said in Kuala Lumpur.

PLane Crash Theories-DESKTOP

The area became a focus for frantic international search efforts for the Boeing 777 after large tongues of oil were found in the water on Saturday, hours after the plane dropped off the radar.

In a day of conflicting information which deepened relatives’ anguish, initial reports of debris off southern Vietnam were ruled out, before an aircraft spotted another object which appeared to be a life raft.

Malaysia said it was sending ships to investigate the raft sighting, but a Vietnamese vessel that got there first found only flotsam in the busy shipping lane.

Vigil ... people in Kuala Lumpur are praying for a miracle.
Vigil … people in Kuala Lumpur are praying for a miracle. Source: AFP
 

“When we reached the site we recovered only a mouldy cable reel cover,’’ Vietnamese army deputy chief of staff Vo Vo Tuan said.

“I think there was only one suspect floating object there,’’ he said, conceding the amount of rubbish floating in the sea made it hard to be “100 per cent sure’’ the ship had reached the location of the reported raft.

Boeing has joined an official US team investigating the disappearance, saying it would act as technical adviser to the US National Transportation Safety Board team already in South-East Asia to offer assistance.

A satellite imaging company from the US has even asked for public help in analysing high-resolution images for any sign of the missing airliner.

Passport fears ... a passenger holds his passport and boarding pass after he checked in h
Passport fears … a passenger checks in at a Malaysia Airlines counter in Beijing. Source: AP
 

‘BERMUDA TRIANGLE STUFF’

Central Queensland University aviation expert Ron Bishop said the continuing lack of debris from the jet pointed towards the aircraft hitting the water intact.

He said that if the aircraft broke up at a cruising altitude, he would expect evidence of items from the plane floating over a 15-20km expanse of ocean.

“If it exploded midair, all the seat cushions would float, paper, magazines, anything made out of paper or wood would float,” he said.

“If it impacted the water in one piece, it possibly impacted at a high speed that drove everything into the water and meant that nothing floated out. And if it did, it would just be small stuff.”

“It could be like the Titanic and drill right into the water.”

He said this might have trapped any remaining oil within the aircraft. However, if it did leak out, it could easily be carried away on the current, leaving little trace of the aircraft.

“It’s pretty spooky when this happens and is particularly upsetting for the families who just want to know what occurred,” he said.

“It becomes like Bermuda Triangle stuff.”

While suggesting it was very unlikely the Boeing 777 crashed on land, Mr Bishop said it was possible.

—AFP with wires/http://www.news.com.au/http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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