Malaysia Airlines MH370: Investigators Reportedly Examine “9/11-Style Plot”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 16 2014 12:12 PM

Malaysia Airlines MH370: Investigators Reportedly Examine “9/11-Style Plot”

478796137-indonesian-national-search-and-rescue-agency-personel
Indonesian personnel watch over high seas during a search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Andaman Sea on Sunday

Photo by CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities are reportedly investigating a possible link between the disappearances of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and reports from an al-Qaida informant that a group of Malaysian Islamists were preparing for a 9/11-style attack, reports the Telegraph. British-born Saajid Badat allegedly told a New York court on Tuesday that he had been instructed to hand over a shoe bomb to a group of four or five Malaysian men—one of whom was a pilot—who were planning to hijack an airplane.

Badat, who is in hiding, told the court that the Malaysian plot was the brainchild of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and that the group was “ready to perform an act.” Although the timing of the revelation could raise some eyebrows, Badat had actually made mention of a Malaysian plot as early as 2012 and security experts apparently see his testimony as credible.

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Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that MH370 was the victim of foul play as Malaysian authorities confirmed that a pilot aboard the flight spoke to air traffic control for the last time after a communications system on the plane had already been disabled and did not hint of any trouble, reports the New York Times. The detail suggests that the person who said “all right, good night” to air traffic controllers in Kuala Lampur was well aware that the signaling system had been shut down. Investigators aren’t certain who spoke to air traffic control and it remains unclear whether the communications with air traffic control are recorded, which would allow experts to carry out a voice analysis, notes the Guardian.

Malaysian authorities also said they’re examining a flight simulator that was confiscated from the pilot's home and USA Today hears word authorities are also picking apart his laptop for clues. Authorities are also asking more countries to release radar data that could help them locate the plane. "The search area has been significantly expanded," said acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, according to Reuters. "From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans." The new search area is nothing short of daunting and many are describing the search efforts as unprecedented. “In a typical aviation disaster the search narrows with time, but this one has expanded to cover immense areas of the world’s third-largest ocean and its largest continent,” notes the Washington Post.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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