Missing flight MH370 anniversary, plane hijacked by conspiracy theories!


A year on, lack of hard facts, initial confusion and overnight ‘experts’ add to fog of uncertainty

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s been exactly a year since Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and despite the most extensive search in aviation history, the fate of the Boeing 777 aircraft and the 239 people on board remains a mystery.

While the search led by Australia in the depths of the Indian Ocean continues, how and why a sophisticated aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew vanished without a trace has piqued the curiosity of many.

The authorities and aviation experts remain baffled. They believe only the plane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders can shed light on why the plane was diverted from its original path and headed south across the vast Indian Ocean.

The lack of hard facts and the initial confusion when the plane was declared missing gave rise to a flood of anecdotal “evidence” and a crop of overnight aviation “experts” basking in their two minutes of fame.

Numerous conspiracy theories over the fate of flight MH370 have been appearing ever since, with none providing a credible clue on what could have really transpired.

In the run up to the first anniversary of MH370′s disappearance, conspiracy theorists went into overdrive.

The latest was Jeff Wise, a science journalist and author, who claimed that the plane was hijacked on the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and flown to a remote landing strip in Kazakhstan.

But why would Putin want to hijack a Malaysian plane in the first place?

On March 3, a senior Boeing 777 pilot claimed that flight MH370 was taken on an emotional last farewell ride over the pilot’s home island of Penang, before the pilot ditched the plane into the ocean.

Captain Simon Hardy who came up with this theory, published in Flight International magazine, is based on the initial suspicion that the MH370′s Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah could have turned rogue and deliberately flown the plane off course.

But there is nothing to substantiate this claim.

In December 2014, a former French airline boss Marc Dugain in a six page article in Paris Match claimed that the US might have shot down flight MH370 as it approached the US military base on the Diego Garcia atoll in the western Indian Ocean, fearing a 9/11 style attack on the base.

The US military is said to have covered up the incident.

Immediately, the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur stated that there was no indication that flight MH370 had flown near the US military facility in the first place.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed, too, had his own idea: just two months after the plane disappeared, he wrote in his blog that “someone” must have remotely seized control of the aircraft from the pilots.

He based his argument on a supposed patent received by Boeing in 2006 for an “anti-terrorism auto-land system” that, once activated, removed all control from the pilots to return a commercial airliner to a pre-determined landing location. But Dr Mahathir failed to mention who that “someone” could be behind the plot. So back to square one.

Everything on board the plane, including its cargo and passengers, came under suspicion right from the onset.

Conspiracy theorists claimed that the plane was carrying dangerous cargo that caused a fire on board or crippled the plane’s operating systems.

Among the items in the cargo manifest were highly flammable lithium ion batteries. Did the batteries have anything to do with the plane’s fate like the fire in South African Airways’ Flight 295 in 1987?

Other conspiracy theorists focussed on the 20 employees of Freestyle, a Texas based semiconductor manufacturing company; the equipment they were carrying had radar-blocking capabilities developed by the company, thus crippling the plane’s systems, these theorists claimed.

Fingers were also pointed at two Iranians on the passenger list who boarded the plane with forged travel documents. Could they have been terrorists who hijacked the plane to an unknown destination or sabotaged the plane?

But Interpol revealed that the pair had no links with any terrorist groups and were on their way to seek asylum in Europe.

And of course there were the out-of-this-world conspiracy theories. The plane was hijacked by aliens. A Malaysian bomoh claimed the plane was hijacked by elves and was permanently suspended in the air.

Two months after the plane disappeared, Indian film director Rupesh Paul put up a trailer for a film about MH370 at the Cannes Film Festival, to be called “The Vanishing Act: The Untold Story of the Missing Malaysian Plane”.

CNN, which had given the MH370 story its full wall-to-wall treatment, described it tellingly: “If the Cannes Film Festival had an award for most squirm-inducing production, it would surely go to the producers of a new thriller telling the “real” story of the still-missing Malaysian Airlines jet.”

National Geographic turned out a documentary that was more cautious in its approach visualising all possibilities including a catastrophic failure of aircraft systems or structure. But there are not definitive answers.

The confusion in the first days of the aircraft’s disappearance led to parallels with conspiracy theories about the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, mainly that the government had covered up crucial information in the aftermath of the incident.

LOOKING BACK: THE FINAL MOMENTS OF MH370

* Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 departs from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang at 12.41 am to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew. It was a code sharing flight with China Southern Airlines.

At the helm of the Boeing 777-200 ER was veteran pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The passengers include 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, six Australians, three French, four Americans, two from Ukraine, New Zealand and Canada respectively and one each from Russia, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.

Less than one hour into the flight, as the plane approached the Igari Waypoint, in South China Sea, where it was to be handed over to the Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control, it disappeared from the radar screen.

“Good night Malaysian three seven zero” were the last words spoken from the cockpit. No distress signal received.

Subesequently the plane was tracked by Malaysian military radar as it deviated from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula and headed towards the Andaman Sea.

Communications pings between the aircraft and Inmarsat’s satellite network concluded that the flight continued until 8:19 am towards southern Indian Ocean. However, the precise location could not be determined.

A major multinational search was mounted without success. Australia leads the second phase of the search with the cost mounting.

– BERNAMA/FMT

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U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert attacked by South Korean


US ambassador attacked_South KoreaSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to South Korea struggled with pain as he recovered Friday from a knife attack, while police searched the offices of the anti-U.S. activist who they say slashed the envoy while screaming demands for Korean reunification.

The attack Thursday on Mark Lippert, which prompted rival North Korea to gloat about “knife slashes of justice,” left deep gashes and damaged tendons and nerves. It also raised questions about security in a city normally seen as ultra-safe, despite regular threats of war from Pyongyang.

While an extreme example, the attack is the latest act of political violence in a deeply divided country where some protesters portray their causes as matters of life and death.

Lippert, 42, was recovering well but still complaining of pain in the wound on his left wrist and a finger where doctors repaired nerve damage, Severance Hospital official Yoon Do-Heum said in televised briefing. Doctors will remove the 80 stiches on Lippert’s face on Monday or Tuesday and expect him to be out of the hospital by Tuesday or Wednesday. Hospital officials say he may experience sensory problems in his left hand for several months.

Police, meanwhile, searched the offices of the suspect, Kim Ki-jong, 55, for documents and computer files as they investigated how the attack was planned and whether others were involved. Police plan to soon request a warrant for Kim’s formal arrest, and potential charges include attempted murder, assaulting a foreign envoy, obstruction and violating a controversial South Korean law that bars praise or assistance of North Korea, Jongno district police chief Yun Myung-sung told reporters.

Police are investigating Kim’s past travels to North Korea — seven times between 1999 and 2007 — during a previous era of inter-Korean cooperation, when Seoul was ruled by a liberal government. Kim attempted to build a memorial altar for former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il after his death in December 2011, police said.

Kim, who has a long history of anti-U.S. protests, said he acted alone in the attack on Lippert. He told police it was meant as a protest of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that started Monday — exercises that the North has long maintained are preparations for an invasion. Kim said the drills, which Seoul and Washington say are purely defensive, ruined efforts for reconciliation between the Koreas, according to police officials.

While most South Koreans look at the U.S. presence favorably, America infuriates some leftists because of its role in Korea’s turbulent modern history.

Washington, which backed the South during the 1950-53 Korean War against the communist North, still stations 28,500 troops here, and anti-U.S. activists see the annual military drills with Seoul as a major obstacle to their goal of a unified Korea.

“South and North Korea should be reunified,” Kim shouted as he slashed Lippert with a 25-centimeter (10-inch) knife, police and witnesses said.

Kim is well-known among police and activists as one of a hard-core group of protesters willing to use violence to highlight their causes.

Police didn’t consider the possibility that Kim, who has ties to the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, which hosted the breakfast meeting where Lippert was attacked, would show up for the event, according to a Seoul police official who didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.

U.S. ambassadors have security details, but their size largely depends on the threat level of the post. Seoul is not considered to be a particularly high threat post despite its proximity to the North Korean border. It’s not clear how many guards Lippert had, but they would have been fewer than the ambassadors in most of the Mideast.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a foreign ambassador stationed in modern South Korea had been injured in a violent attack.

However, the Japanese ambassador narrowly escaped injury in 2010 when Kim threw a piece of concrete at him, according to police. Kim, who was protesting Japan’s claim to small disputed islands that are occupied by South Korea, hit the ambassador’s secretary instead, media reports said, and was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term over the attack.

The website of the Woorimadang activist group that Kim heads describes the group’s long history of anti-U.S. protests. Photos show him and other activists rallying last week in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to protest the U.S.-South Korean military drills, which are to run until the end of April.

North Korea’s state-controlled media crowed Thursday that Kim’s “knife slashes of justice” were “a deserved punishment on war maniac U.S.” and reflected the South Korean people’s protests against the U.S. for driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war because of the joint military drills.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Saudi Arabia for meetings with regional leaders, said the U.S. “will never be intimidated or deterred by threats or by anybody who harms any American diplomats.”

Activists in Seoul, meanwhile, expressed worries that the attack on Lippert would harm the public image of peaceful protesters, or prompt the conservative government to suppress their activities.

Small to medium-sized demonstrations regularly occur across Seoul, and most are peaceful.

But scuffles with police do break out occasionally, and the burning of effigies of North Korean and Japanese leaders is also common. Some demonstrators have also severed their own fingers, thrown bodily fluids at embassies and tried to self-immolate.
Lippert became ambassador last October and has been a regular presence on social media and in speeches and presentations during his time in Seoul. He’s regularly seen walking his Basset Hound, Grigsby, near his residence, not far from where the attack happened. His wife gave birth here and the couple gave their son a Korean middle name.

–  Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Matthew Lee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.

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China plans parade for war anniversary


Military parade to mark victory of War of Resistance Against Japanese AggressionBEIJING – China will hold a military parade this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Monday evening.

Other events that will also mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War include a rally, a reception and an evening gala in Beijing, which will be attended by President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, the spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, without revealing exact dates of the parade and other events.

Related: Farce to fuss over China’s military paradeChina military parade

Unmanned aircraft receives inspection during a military parade in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, October 1, 2009. [Xinhua]

“China will flex its military muscle again.” Perhaps that’s the main message many Western and Japanese media outlets will grab from the news that China may hold a grand military parade in September.

Such a fuss will only be a farce, even if the parade news is confirmed by the Chinese government. The unusual military parade, if it is held in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese aggression, it will only be part of the series of activities to commemorate the World Anti-Fascist War.

China has no intention to taunt Japan by showing off its military mighty, even when Japanese politicians’ words and actions intensify tensions in the East Asia.

It’s true that the parade will be special and rare as it will not be held on the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. In the past two decades, two military parades were held in 1999 and 2009 to celebrate the 50th and 60 anniversaries of founding of New China.

However, the parade will only be part of activities that remind the world of what happened in the Eastern battlefield in World War II. As a responsible power that played an extremely important role in the Asian battlefield to fight against Fascist Japan, China’s sacrifice and contributions have long been underreported compared with its counterparts who fight against Germany and Italy in Europe.

There were about 30 million casualties in China in the eight-year long war (1937-1945). And in the most brutal Nanjing Massacre in 1937 alone, 300,000 innocent Chinese lost their lives. Chinese people, through resistance, depleted Japan’s resources and limited its ability to launch attacks on other countries, which is key to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.

China has every reason to use the international practice to highlight its pains and contributions in the World War II. On Jan 27, Poland held a ceremony marking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz death camp. In May Russia will hold a similar ceremony.

Military parade to mark victory of War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression

China military parade_reason

The series of activities are not aimed at planting hatred among the peace-loving people against their past foes, but remind the whole world to be vigilant to any factors that may threaten world peace.

Japanese people, who were exploited by its national military machine, paid the biggest price for Japanese warmongers. For instance, when the allies dealt a final blow to force Japan to surrender, more than 150,000 Japanese people were immediately killed after the US dropped atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As Japanese politicians continuously tried to whitewash Japan’s war crimes in past years, the whole world should keep a close eye on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on Aug 15, the day when Japan announced surrender in World War II 70 years ago.

Abe has hinted that his statement may deviate from former Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono’s apology over “comfort woman” and the epoch-making statement made by former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama admiting Japan’s war atrocities in World War II. If he does so, Abe will not only challenge the post-World War II international regime, but also cast a shadow on the whole of East Asia and harm the interests of Japanese people.

China is a peace-loving country that takes defensive defense strategy. The military parade, if it is held, will only display Chinese military’s resolution to protect the nation and its people. Therefore China’s activities to mark the victory of World Anti-Fascist War should be cherished by all peace-loving people across the world.

Source: China Daily, Asia News Nework

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Malaysia’s richest four poorer by RM13b


Their net worth hit by challenging economic outlook and slump in oil prices

PETALING JAYA: The country’s top four tycoons in the latest Forbes Malaysia Rich List are “poorer” by a total of US$3.6bil (RM12.9bil) with last year’s challenging economic out­­look shrinking their wealth, ­albeit slightly.

Robert Kuok, 91, who controls a business empire which includes palm oil, shipping, media, hotels and real estate, topped the list for the 10th year in a row with an estimated net worth of US$11.3bil (RM40.5bil) as of February, down US$200mil (RM720mil) from 2013.

In second place was telecommunications tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan whose wealth is valued at US$9.7bil (RM35bil), a drop of US$1.6bil (RM5.7bil) from the previous year, with third spot taken by property mogul and Hong Leong Group chairman Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan with a net worth of US$5.6bil (RM20bil), down US$800mil (RM2.8bil).

Genting Malaysia Bhd chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, who runs casinos in the Bahamas, London, Singapore, Manila and New York besides the home-grown casino in Genting Highlands, claimed fourth place with a net worth of US$5.5bil (RM19.8bil), down US$1bil (RM3.6bil).

“The wealth of some on the list was affected as the local stock market lost steam and the oil price collapse sent the Malaysian ringgit down 10% against the dollar,” according to a statement issued by the business magazine after the release of its latest rankings.

The statement said Ananda’s net worth decreased partly due to a slump in the shares of Bumi Armada Bhd, his offshore oilfield services provider, while Lim’s wealth was affected as China’s economic moderation affected the region’s casino gaming and entertainment sector.

The statement said tycoons with significant investments and ties to the oil sector also suffered a decline in their net worth.

SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd vice-chairman Tan Sri Mokhzani Ma­­­­ha­­thir was knocked out of the billionaire’s list this year as his estimated net worth fell by US$500mil (RM1.8bil) to US$700mil (RM2.5bil).

The main investors in Sapura­Ken­cana – brothers Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin and Datuk Shahriman – also saw their fortunes drop to US$860mil (RM3.1bil) from a reported US$1.4bil (RM5bil) the year before.

It was not all bad news for some Malaysian tycoons as a weaker ringgit boosted exports.

Tan Sri Lau Cho Kun, who heads Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, made it to the billionaire ranks with a net worth of US$1.08bil (RM3.8bil) on the back of robust plantation and trading revenues.

Software tycoon Goh Peng Ooi, the founder and executive chairman of Silverlake Group, saw his net worth rise by US$450mil (RM1.6bil) to US$1.55bil (RM5.5bil).

– The Star Asia News Network

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“Super China” Boom in South Korea


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Super China_S KoreaA screen capture of South Korean documentary Super China. [Photo/Agencies]

The seven-episode documentary, Super China, won hearts and ratings over 10 percent in South Korea and is praised as the “encyclopedia” for South Koreans to know China.

The special series, which aired from Jan 15 to 24, introduces China as a whole, covering demographics, economics, resources, geography, military diplomacy and cultural soft power. The ratings surpassed 10% for Super China, while average ratings for a South Korean documentary stand at around 5%, according to Xinhua.

“The high ratings show how much South Korean audiences are interested in China, and that we aired the series at the right time,” producer Park Jin-hwan said.

Park, who worked as a journalist in China for many years, is among the three producers of Super China. The initial aim of production was to provide a “framework for deeper understanding on China,” Park said.

“There were many publications and programs that introduced China, but none of them was comprehensive enough, so we wanted to do a more complete documentary to help South Korean audiences learn about China’s past and presence,” Park said in fluent Chinese.

“China’s influence on the world is increasing as we speak. We have visited more than 20 countries, including the US, Argentina, Sri Lanka and Kenya, to give different perspectives on China from around the world,” said Park.

Multi-national politics and international relations are major highlights of the program. The program also includes experts who talk about their take on the future of Sino-South Korean relations. Among them aree Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University, who introduced the concept of “Soft Power”, and political researcher John J.Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. Views of politicians, businessmen and the public also are included.

The pubic response

According to Xinhua, many South Korean audiences think a documentary on this scale that reflects the real China is rare and regard Super China as a “encyclopedia” on understanding China.

Others believe that with China’s strengthening national power and a tighter Sino-South Korean relationship, this documentary can help South Koreans think about the future between the two nations. Some felt a sense of “crisis” after viewing, while others criticized the program as a documentary that praised China.

Across the border, Chinese audiences believe Super China is progressive, as it does not carry a tone of prejudice or contain many misunderstandings, while others think they have raised the bar too high for China. Chinese netizens believe this documentary may stir worry in South Korea.

Super China’s production team did not expect the strong feedback from Chinese audiences, as the show was aimed at South Korean viewers. Park said he is considering filming a new series to focus on the influence of China’s economics on South Korea, including the challenges and opportunities brought by China’s manufacturing and telecom industries.

( Chinaculture.org )

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ISIS targeting the rich, especially Chinese tycoons, said Malaysian Home Minister


Malaysia_ISISHome Minister_ZAHID_HAMIDI
Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Isis terrorists would most likely employ kidnap and ransom tactics by preying on wealthy Malaysians to funds their activities. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 13, 2015

The Home Ministry raised the alarm bell on the threat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying that the radical Islamist group, is plotting to kidnap wealthy Malaysians and stage bank robberies in the country, major Chinese dailies reported .

Its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in a joint interview recently, said the tactics employed by Isis is to hold these tycoons for ransom and use the money to funds their terrorist activities, Sin Chew Daily reported.

Other Chinese dailies involved in the special interview with Zahid included China Press, Nanyang Siang Pau, Oriental Daily and Guang Ming Daily.

Sin Chew Daily also reported that so far, authorities have yet to determine who is on the so called list of Isis’ targets but are working hard trying to determine the matter.

He said, based on intelligence reports, such plots are already developing and the ministry is trying to track down and investigate suspicious movements by the group and their sympathisers in the country.

“Anyone who is a rich is considered a potential target for Isis, and in Malaysia, most of them are not Malays,” he was quoted as to saying.

“As of now, we can only affirm that they have already laid eyes on some of these people; We do not know who but we will do our best in protecting these potential victims,” he added.

The Chinese daily said Zahid also advised these potential targets to beef up security.

“Do not let your guard down, be alert regardless whether you are a tycoon or not, you can be easily kidnapped if you are not cautious.”

During the interview, Sin Chew Daily said Zahid also emphasised on the need to implement pre-emptive measures to face possible Isis threats in the country.

He urged Malaysians to support the upcoming anti-terrorism laws, citing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, saying that it is “extremely critical.”

The Chinese daily reported that according to Zahid, the Caliphate system that Isis propagates does not agree with the existing democratic system.

“Everyone will be brainwashed under the ideology and those who do not buy into their idea will be alienated and killed, especially those who oppose the ideology.

“Isis threats is real in this country. It is also possible that they will kill Malaysians within the borders of this nation,” he stressed.

“Their targets will also comprise of non-Muslims and various factions of Islam who they consider them heretic.”

To date, about 59 Malaysians are officially known to have joined Isis.

More than 65 have been arrested by police either on their way to Syria and Iraq or on their way back since the start of last year. – Malaysian Insider

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LATELY, the use of the words militants and terrorists has become very common and people are sometimes confused as to whether an act of …

Are they terrorists or militants?


Terrorists or militaants

LATELY, the use of the words militants and terrorists has become very common and people are sometimes confused as to whether an act of violence has been committed by terrorists or militants.

In Malaysia, the two words are often used interchangeably whereas in strict media practice and proper nomenclature, there is a difference between the two.

It was reported that one foreign media had warned their employees to be extra careful on the terms extremist, militant and terrorist in their news coverage to avoid characterising people.

It is good for our local media to follow these footsteps and avoid using wrong words which can be very sensitive and inappropriate.

In this regard, naturally those who are familiar with the subject of “Organised Crime and Terrorism” would able be to differentiate between the two terms.

Militants and terrorists both have their own agendas and mostly, these agendas have political, religious or ideological goals. The difference lies in the means with which they seek to achieve their desired goals.

Either way it is clear that usually both the terrorists and militants are extremists (in the sense of holding a view at the extreme end of a spectrum on a particular subject matter) who indulge in unlawful activities and therefore become a threat to the nation.

Some of the differences between militants and terrorists are:

  • All terrorists are militants, but not all militants are terrorists;
  • Terrorism is carried out by non-governmental groups that do not wear uniforms. However, members of militants usually wear uniforms, identifying insignia or militia – coloured clothes;
  • Terrorists resort to physical violence. They utilise terror as a means of coercion and use violence as a necessary means of attaining their political, religious or ideological goals, thereby causing harm and death to innocent people and maximum damage to property. Militants may or may not actively engage in physical violence, but they are certainly very aggressive verbally or use verbal violence to achieve their desired goals, as undoubtedly, they feel themselves in “war mode”;
  • Terrorists have no regard for humankind and, usually target civilians, instil fear and psychological effect on them in order to gain the attention of the authorities. As terrorist organisations, they will commit violent acts by murdering civilians, scholars, religious leaders and sanctioning of extortion and demanding ransom.

On the contrary, militants usually do not resort to harming civilians to champion their cause but instead use confrontational or violent methods against the establishment in support of a political or social cause. For example militants may choose to rebel and use armed aggression for a country’s liberation; and

  • Where both terms converge is when militants find they have no recourse to achieve their goals and then they resort to terrorism if their needs are not met, thereby transforming themselves into a terrorist group.

By DATUK AKHBAR SATAR Director, Institute of Crime & Criminology HELP University

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