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MISSING MAS FLIGHT: Interpol rules out terrorism links to MH370 disappearance

Publication Date : 13-03-2014

 

The Malaysia Airlines (MAS) jetliner missing for four days is unlikely to have been downed by terrorists, Interpol said, as it identified the two Iranian men who boarded the flight with stolen passports.

"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident," Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble said at a press conference at the agency's headquarters in Lyon, France, yesterday.

Malaysian police, however, were not ruling out foul play and said they were investigating four possible scenarios, including sabotage and hijacking of the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200.

But as one aspect of the mystery became clearer, another deepened.

News reports said Malaysia's military radar could have tracked the missing jetliner over the Malacca Strait on the west of the peninsula, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the east coast.

But as a 10-nation search continued over air and water, there was still no trace of wreckage or debris from the plane, despite the sweep widening to a radius of 100 nautical miles.

MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhary Yahya said the search has expanded to the west of the peninsula and the Strait of Malacca.

"The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang," he said, referring to the airport about 50km from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The authorities had earlier revealed that a review of Malaysia's military radar records showed that the plane may have tried to turn around just before it lost contact at 1:30am on Saturday.

Malaysian Air Force chief Rodzali Daud was quoted as saying the plane was last detected by military radar at 2:40am that day near Pulau Perak, at the northern end of the Malacca Strait. That suggested that it had turned around and travelled for more than an hour after losing contact with air traffic control over the South China Sea near Vietnam.

But Indonesia said it had not tracked the plane near its waters.

"We detected the aircraft 100 nautical miles north of Kota Baru, heading north at a speed of 471 knots," First Marshal Agus Barnas, deputy to coordinating security minister Djoko Suyanto, told The Straits Times. "We did not detect it heading west."

MAS said the plane was inspected 10 days before the flight.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the four areas of investigation also included psychological and personal profiles of passengers and crew. He said investigators were looking at video footage to study the behaviour of passengers.

Interpol's Noble said the two Iranians with stolen Austrian and Italian passports may have been smuggled by traffickers.

Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, had travelled on an Austrian passport, and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 29, on an Italian passport. Pouria was identified by the Malaysian authorities after his mother told police he did not arrive in Frankfurt.

Khalid said: "We believe he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group, and we believe he was trying to migrate to Germany."

 

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