The hunt for a terrorist connection to the disappearance of the Malaysia Airline flight MH370 is intensifying, as an al-Qaeda informer described a terrorist plot in Malaysian court and the search for the plane is now including Taliban controlled areas in Pakistan.
Terrorist informer testifies in court he provided cockpit bomb to Malaysian men in Afghanistan
Last week in court an informer testified that four to five Malaysian men had been planning to take control of a plane, using a bomb hidden in a shoe to blow open the cockpit door. The testimony was cited as “credible” by a security expert quoted in the UK Telegraph, which first reported the news.
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The informant testified he had met the Malaysian jihadists in Afghanistan and provided the group with a shoe bomb to use to take control of an aircraft. One of the jihadists was a pilot, the informant said.
British-born Muslim Saajid Badat said that he had been instructed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysian group. Testifying in New York at the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Badat said: “I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit.”
Badat indicated the Malaysian plot was originally designed by the principal architect of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Badat said that Mohammed maintained a list of the tallest buildings in the world and crossed off the World Trade Center after 9/11. On that list was Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, formerly the world’s tallest building and a sign of Malaysia’s attachment to the modern world, and this could have been a target of the terrorists, according to the report.
“These spectaculars take a long time in the planning,” a British security source was quoted as saying.
Badat gave the court his opinion that Malaysian group were “ready to perform an act.” When the possibility of the cockpit door to the Malaysian plane to be locked, Badat testified: “So I said, ‘How about I give you one of my bombs to open a cockpit door?”
Search for plane extends into Taliban-controlled area
Malaysian authorities asked for permission to investigate a theory the missing Malaysian plane flew into an area along the Pakistan / Afghan border near North West Pakistan that is believed controlled by the Taliban. One focus of the investigation is the plane potentially flew under Pakistan radar into Taliban-controlled bases, according to a report in the UK Independent newspaper.
The report noted that someone on board the plane had sent the final message from the cockpit after the plane’s ACARS reporting system had been disabled. Then nearly 14 minutes after someone sent a message to air traffic controllers saying “All right, good night,” the plane’s transponder, used by commercial radar systems to identify the plane, was switched off.
China accuses Malaysia of withholding information
Chinese officials have accused the Malaysian government of withholding information. Malaysia is a deeply Islamic country and a concern is that terrorist operations launched from the area could create instability and damage the emerging nation’s international reputation.
The Beijing government, under increasing pressure on Chinese social media for accountability of its citizens, has demanded the Malaysian government do more. A stinging commentary by Xinhua News Agency, China’s official news source, accused Malaysian and US authorities of dragging their feet. Speaking of the delay in getting information to the public, the News Agency wrote: “Given today’s technology, the delay smacks of either dereliction of duty or reluctance to share information in a full and timely manner. That would be intolerable. As the leader of the international search and rescue mission, Malaysia bears inescapable responsibility. Other parties that possess valuable data and information, including plane maker Boeing, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and intelligence superpower the United States, should also have done a better job.”