|Flight Path of Malaysia Air MH370|
Click image to enlarge it. Source: ChinaDaily.com
Investigators now say it's possible that the plane disintegrated in mid-air and are using the term "suspects" to describe at least two of the missing plane's passengers, who used stolen Austrian and Italian passports.
The flight vanished on Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday) when it suddenly lost contact with ground control while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China on Saturday (see map of Flight MH370's path). The last known location of the airplane was over the South China Sea, between Malaysia and Vietnam. When it disappeared, it was flying at 35,000 feet with good weather.
CLAIMING RESPONSIBILITY: Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, was asked today about reports that a media personality received an open letter from the leader of Chinese Martyr Brigade (CMB) that claimed responsibility for the incident.
Hishammuddin also said that security video has been helpful in identifying the suspects, says American Military News. "I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV," he told the media. He also said that the video was still being examined.
|Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein|
CMB has no history, and their claim of responsibility is being called "dubious" and "doubtful." They sent their statement via email to journalists in China on March 9, saying, "You kill one of our clan, we will kill 100 of you as pay back." "There is no sound or credible grounds to justify their claims," said Hishammuddin. "I have seen the open letter. I don’t think there is any sound ground that it is true," he said on Monday.
"The majority of Chinese media outlets have expressed skepticism over the statement or dismissed it outright," reports The Nation, "suggesting it is likely a hoax made up by opportunists looking to inflame ethnic tensions following a series of attacks by separatists in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and a mass stabbing in the Yunnan capital of Kunming this month that left at least 33 people dead."
|Wen Yunchao (Twitter @wenyunchoa)|
First to get the memo
The open letter email was sent to famous Chinese blogger Wen Yunchao, best known by his online name of "Bei Feng." Boxun News reports that the letter complained about China’s policies toward the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region. The CMB likely chose to send their open letter to Wen because he is know around the world and well-respected as a human rights activist. Wen currently lives in New York. Wen has been a critic of Beijing for years and is often targeted by cyber attacks and character assassination by the Chinese government.
A BILLION UNSCREENED PASSPORTS: Interpol maintains an active database of stolen passports worldwide. In a statement released on March 9, Interpol's Secretary General Ronald K. Noble faulted Malaysia Air for not properly checking the identification of passengers before they boarded the doomed flight. "Now, we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists," said Noble's statement, "while INTERPOL is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights."
The Interpol statement also said, "Last year passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times without having their passports screened against INTERPOL's databases. As far back as 2002 following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, INTERPOL created its SLTD database to help countries secure their borders and protect their citizens from terrorists and other dangerous criminals known to use fraudulent travel documents."
Interpol has long warned about stolen or counterfeit passports as a danger to air travelers. A 2007 statement by Interpol said, "The use of fraudulent documents by terrorists and other criminals remains one of the most dangerous gaps in global security, with stolen blank passports among the most prized resources for those attempting to enter a country under a false identity."
- Malaysia Airlines: What we know about flight MH370 BBC News
- Terrorism possible in missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 New York Daily News
- Chinese Martyrs' Brigade group claims responsibility for flight MH370 Nation Multimedia
- How Stolen Passports Were Used to Board Flight MH370 The Wire
- Death on the Silk Route: Violence in Xinjiang BBC News
- Q&A: China and the Uighurs BBC News