SHOCK POLITICAL TWIST: MH370 pilot was ‘obsessed’ with Anwar Ibrahim

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

16 March 2014

SHOCK POLITICAL TWIST: MH370 pilot was 'obsessed' with Anwar Ibrahim, M'sian PM may QUIT SOON

KUALA LUMPUR – Amid intensifying calls for Prime Minister  Najib Razak to step down to take responsibility for mishandling the missing  flight MH370 crisis, and after days of secretly holding the doomed pilot’s  laptop, the Malaysian authorities have suddenly ‘loosened’ their lips in what  appears to be a bid to draw in and tarnish Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The 66-year-old Anwar is Najib’s political arch rival, and who the day before  the plane went missing on Saturday, [Ibrahim] had been convicted and jailed on sodomy  charges that many have opined were manifestly trumped up by the Najib  regime.

In fact when the news of the missing airplane first broke, political cynics  had privately termed the tragedy as a ‘Godsend’ for the 60-year-old PM, who  stood to face a crippling backlash from the Malay community, the country’s  predominant electorate, for resorting to ‘political dirty tricks’ to shut out  another Malay leader.

However, the fire could not be contained and the MH370 tragedy may instead  sound the political death knell for Najib himself. Expected to resign shortly,  there is concern that Najib was trying to deflect blame and further smear his  political nemesis on the way out from power.

Najib to step down  soon

Over the past three days, rumors of Najib’s imminent resignation had turned  red-hot and political watchers from his Umno party told Malaysia  Chronicle that he had been ‘forced’ to agree to give up his post following  tremendous pressure from party seniors, and would announce his decision  soon.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Mail on Sunday reported  the Malaysian police were investigating the  possibility that the pilot of  missing Flight MH370 had hijacked his own  aircraft in a bizarre political  protest.

Prime Minister Najib (left) and  flamboyant wife Rosmah (second left) were accused of instigating Anwar’s former  office aide, Saiful Bukhari (third left) to file a sodomy complaint against the  Opposition chief (right).

Political watchers believe the  beleaguered Najib has finally succumbed to pressure from party mentors such as  ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad and ex-finance minister Daim Zainuddin to quit, and  are expecting an announcement to be made soon.

‘Political fanatic’ pilot had attended  Anwar’s trial, expressed disgust at verdict

The  Mail on Sunday said it had learned that  Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an  ‘obsessive’ supporter of Malaysia’s  opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala  Lumpur it is understood  53-year-old Shah attended a controversial trial in  which Ibrahim was  jailed for five years.

Campaigners  say the politician, the key  challenger to Malaysia’s ruling party, was  the victim of a long-running smear  campaign and had faced trumped-up  charges.

 Police  sources have confirmed that Shah was  a vocal political activist – and  fear that the court decision left him  profoundly upset.

It was against  this background that, seven  hours later, he took control of a Boeing  777-200 bound for Beijing and carrying  238 passengers and crew.

Timeline: The above graphic shows how the situation may have developed

Four people checked in but did not fly.

Sudden ascent and dive points to cockpit takeover

Sudden ascent and dive points to cockpit  takeover

The final picture: The missing jet is pictured her in February this year above Polish airspace

The final picture: The missing jet is  pictured her in February this year above Polish airspace.

Yesterday, Malaysian police  searched his  house in the upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam,  where he had installed  a home-made flight simulator. But this newspaper  can reveal that investigators  had already spent much of last week  examining two laptops removed from Shah’s  home. One is believed to  contain data from the simulator

 Confirming  rising fears, Malaysia’s prime  minister Najib Razak announced yesterday  that MH370 was deliberately steered  off course after its communication  system was switched off. He said it headed  west over the Malaysian  seaboard and could have flown for another seven hours  on its fuel  reserves.

It is not yet  clear where the plane was  taken, however Mr Razak said the most recent  satellite data suggests the plane  could have been making for one of two  possible flight corridors. The search,  involving 43 ships and 58  aircraft from 15 countries, switched from the South  China Sea to the Bay  of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.

US investigators say faint ‘pings’ were being  transmitted for several hours after the flight lost contact with the ground.

Meanwhile,  military radar showed the jet  climbed to 45,000ft – above its service  limit – which could have been a  deliberate attempt to knock out the  passengers and crew.

Anwar Ibrahim is a broadly popular  democracy  icon and former deputy prime minister whose prosecution on a  charge of sodomy  is seen by many Malaysians as political persecution.

The  raids on Captain Shah’s home appeared  stage-managed as a display of  intent after the Prime Minister said the focus of  the investigation was  now on ‘crew and passengers’ as a result of the latest  leads.

But investigators have told the Mail on  Sunday inquiries into the background of the pilot actually began days  earlier.

Malaysian  police, helped by FBI agents from  the US, are looking into the  political and religious backgrounds of both  Zaharie and his co-pilot.  Zaharie’s home was sealed off yesterday as police  spent an hour inside.

However,  a senior investigation source said  two laptops were taken from the  property in low-key visits by police early last  week despite a series of  denials by officials that his home had been searched  or raided.

One  laptop taken away is thought to contain  data from the flight simulator  while a second contained little information.  Zaharie’s personal laptop  was not found, and is thought to have been with him  in the cockpit of  the plane, the source said.

Activist: Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah

Also raided: Fariq Abdul Hamid

Investigation: Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah,  left,  was a political activist who attended a tense trial on the day of the   flight, investigators believe. He was flying service MH370 alongside  Fariq  Abdul Hamid, right, from whom investigators have been keen to  deflect  suspicion.

Hunt: Investigators have riaded the houses of both pilots. Pictured is where co-pilot Hamid lives in an upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb

Hunt: Investigators have raided the houses of  both pilots. Pictured is where co-pilot Hamid lives in an upmarket Kuala   Lumpur suburb

 Zaharie’s  co-workers have told investigators  the veteran pilot was a social  activist who was vocal and fervent in his  support of Ibrahim.

‘Colleagues  made it clear to us that he was  someone who held strong political  beliefs and was strident in his support for  Anwar Ibrahim,’ another  investigation source said. ‘We were told by one  colleague he was  obsessed with politics.

Democracy icon, Anwar was jailed  for 5 years

Anwar Ibrahim is  a broadly popular  democracy icon and former deputy prime minister whose  prosecution on a  charge of sodomy is seen by many Malaysians as political  persecution.

Campaigners say the politician, the key  challenger to Malaysia’s ruling party, was the victim of a long-running  smear  campaign and had faced trumped-up charges.

Captain  Shah, who is thought to have  attended the trial in Putrajaya hours  before flying, is thought to be incensed  by the verdict.

Co-workers have told  investigators the  veteran pilot was a social activist who was vocal and  fervent in his support of  Ibrahim.

Investigators said: ‘We are looking into the  theory that Zaharie’s political beliefs  may be a factor. There are huge  sensitivities surrounding this but we  cannot afford not to pursue any angle  brought to our attention.’

In  their interviews, colleagues said Zaharie  told them he planned to  attend the court case involving Anwar on March 7, just  hours before the  Beijing flight, but investigators had not yet been able to  confirm if he  was among the crowd of Anwar supporters at court.

Zaharie  is believed to be separated or  divorced from his wife although they  share the same house, close to Kuala  Lumpur’s international airport.  They have three children, but no family members  were at home yesterday:  only the maid has remained there.

Political dirty tricks and  bullying the norm in Malaysia

The   revelations about Zaharie’s political  affiliations are highly sensitive   in a country where political dirty tricks  are widespread.

One  of  the investigation sources said: ‘We  are looking into the theory that   Zaharie’s political beliefs may be a factor.  There are huge   sensitivities surrounding this but we cannot afford not to  pursue any   angle brought to our attention.’

Separately,   a police source told the Mail  on Sunday: ‘I can confirm our   investigations include the political and  religious leanings of both   pilots.’

Zaharie  joined  Malaysia  Airlines in  1981. He became a captain about ten years  later   and has clocked up  18,360 hours of flying experience.

A Malaysian govt conspiracy right from  the beginning?

In  the days after Flight MH370 disappeared,  Zaharie was affectionately  described as a good neighbour and an eccentric ‘geek’ who had a flight  simulator at home simply because he loved his work so  much.

Malaysian  officials initially appeared keen  not to direct any suspicion towards  Zaharie or his co-pilot, 27-year-old Fariq  Abdul Hamid, who was last  week revealed to have invited two women passengers  into the cockpit and  smoked on an earlier flight to Phuket.

But  evidence of the way the plane’s  transponder and communication systems  were disabled and the way the plane was  expertly flown over the Indian  Ocean apparently using navigational waypoints  meant only a skilled  aviator could have been at the controls. Investigators  were also baffled  by why, if hijackers took over the plane, there was no Mayday  call or  signal from the two pilots to say the cockpit had been  breached.

At  yesterday’s press conference, the  suspicion over the pilot’s  involvement mounted as prime minister Najib Razak  said that  investigators had found ‘deliberate action’ on board the plane  resulted  in it changing course and losing contact with ground crews.

As  a result of the new information,  Malaysian authorities had ‘refocused  their investigation on crew and passengers  aboard’, he said. Police  sealed off the area surrounding Zaharie’s home and  searched the house  shortly after the press conference.

Mr  Razak said the new satellite evidence  shows ‘with a high degree of  certainty’ that the one of the jet’s  communications devices – the  Aircraft and Communications Addressing and  Reporting System  was  disabled just before it had reached the east coast  of Malaysia. ACARS is  a service that allows computers aboard the plane to relay  in-flight  information about the health of its systems back to the  ground.

Shortly  afterwards, near the cross-over  point between Malaysian and Vietnamese  air traffic controllers, the plane’s  transponder, which emits an  identifying signal, was switched off or, less  likely, failed.

According to a military radar, the aircraft  then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west  direction.

Search: Investigators from countries around the world have been scouring the oceans

Search: Investigators from countries around  the world have been scouring the oceans

A  satellite was able to pick  up a ‘ping’ from the plane until 08:11 local time,  more than seven hours  after it lost radar contact, although it was unable to  give a precise  location. Mr Razak went on to say that based on this new data,   investigators ‘have determined the plane’s last communication with a  satellite  was in one of two possible corridors – north from the border  of Kazakhstan and  Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and south  from Indonesia to the  southern Indian Ocean.

 If  as suspected the plane was diverted into  the Indian Ocean, the task of  the search teams becomes more difficult, as there  are hundreds of  uninhabited islands and the water reaches depths of around  23,000ft.

Countries  in the plane’s potential  flightpath have now joined a huge effort to  locate the missing passengers, but  China described the revelation as  ‘painfully belated’. And FBI investigators  say the disappearance of  MH370 may have been ‘an act of piracy’ and that the  possibility that its  hundreds of passengers are being held at an unknown  location has not  been ruled out.

 Meanwhile,  leading aviation lawyer James  Healy–Pratt, who is helping relatives,  said Malaysian Airlines had declined to  buy Boeing’s Airplane Health  Management system, which monitors systems in real  time and could have  alerted it to any potential problems, rather than having to  recover a  black box.

‘If the  transponder was manually disabled  then one can only hope that the black  boxes were not also manually disabled,’ he said. ‘Otherwise, the truth  will never be known.’ – Daily Mail, Agencies,  Malaysia Chronicle

Full article:


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