Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Missing MH370: Iranian "Mr Ali" bought impostors' tickets in Pattaya

KUALA LUMPUR: Travel arrangements for the two passengers with fake identities on the missing flight MH370 bound for Beijing were made in the Thai resort town of Pattaya and paid for in cash, according to a report.

British newspaper Financial Times quoted the Thai travel agent who booked the tickets for the men as saying that she had been asked to arrange the travel by an Iranian contact.

Benjaporn Krutnait, owner of the Grand Horizon travel agency in Pattaya, was quoted as saying the Iranian, a long-term business contact who she knew only as “Mr Ali”, first asked her to book cheap tickets to Europe for the two men on March 1.

Benjaporn initially reserved one of the men on a Qatar Airways flight and the other on Etihad. But the tickets expired when Benjaporn did not hear back from Ali.

When he contacted her again on Thursday, she rebooked the men on the Malaysia Airlines flight through Beijing because it was the cheapest available, the paper said.

A friend of Ali paid Benjaporn cash for the tickets, the paper reported, adding that there is no evidence that Ali knew the two men were travelling on stolen passports.

Benjaporn said she did not believe Ali was linked to terrorism, particularly as he had not specified booking the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight but had instead asked for the cheapest route to Europe, FT reported.

Benjaporn was quoted as saying that she was speaking about the case because she was concerned over the speculation about a terrorist attack and wanted the facts to be known.


Missing Plane Baffles Investigators Who Can’t Rule Out Anything
Major General Datuk Affendi Buang briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. Photographer: How Foo Yeen/Getty Images
With few clues about what happened to a missing Malaysian wide-body plane or even where it is, aviation investigators and security analysts are left with one conclusion: almost no theory can be considered off the table.
Hijacking, terrorist attack, pilot suicide, mechanical failure, a flight-crew miscue or another unforeseen issue all may have brought down the Boeing Co. (BA:US) 777-200 somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam, five experts said in interviews.
Because it’s so improbable a plane the size of a 777, Boeing’s biggest twin-engine jet, would just disappear or land somewhere undetected by modern technology, searchers probably are looking in the wrong places, said Michael Barr, who teaches aviation accident investigation at the University of Southern California.
“That’s what’s surprising to me,” Barr said. “Everybody is chasing their tail. There isn’t a lack of debris. There’s a lack of knowledge where the debris field is.”
Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) Flight 370 went missing March 8 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people aboard. So far, searchers haven’t turned up any confirmed wreckage and even information on its last known position has been vague.

Many Scenarios

Airliners that have gone missing or crashed from higher altitudes since the dawn of the jet age in the 1950s can be grouped into a handful of categories, Steve Wallace, former head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s accident investigation arm, said in an interview.
They include structural failures, criminal or terrorist acts, a fuel tank explosion and pilot errors, often in combination with malfunctions, Wallace said.
“At the outset of the investigation, everything is on the table,” he said.
A hijacking scenario could explain why the 777’s remains haven’t been found, he said. If terrorists or criminals were able to get past the hardened cockpit doors adopted internationally after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, they may have forced pilots to change course or to switch off the transponder beacon that makes the plane easier to track by radar.

Shoe Bombs

Kip Hawley, a former administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, said he was concerned that terrorists may have smuggled explosives onto the flight in their shoes.
Airlines were warned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in mid-February of credible threats about shoe bombs, which Richard C. Reid, a self-declared al-Qaeda member, used in an unsuccessful attempt to blow up an American Airlines jet en route to Miami from Paris in 2001.
Such a device, depending on its components and power, could bring down a large plane, Hawley said in an interview.
The North American Air Defense Command’s early warning system detected no anomalies relating to the Malaysian airline incident, said a command official in Colorado Springs, Colorado, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence activities.
U.S. intelligence agencies have detected no burst of chatter on airwaves or online that’s characteristic of what often follows a terrorist attack, a U.S. intelligence official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Increases in calls and messages to and from Malaysia and countries that had passengers on the flight can be attributed to communications involving people seeking news of the fate of their loved ones, the official said.

Investigations Started

Still, the fact that two passengers were carrying stolen passports raises a red flag, John Magaw, a former administrator of TSA and a former director of the U.S. Secret Service, said in an interview. Austria and Italy said the passports were stolen from their nationals.
Authorities have almost certainly begun a terror investigation in the event that’s what brought down the plane, Richard Marquise, a former FBI agent who was the lead criminal investigator on the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, said in an interview.
They are probably checking the backgrounds of passengers, crew members and anyone else who may have come in contact with the aircraft to see if they have any connections to terrorism, Marquise said. Even if the plane isn’t recovered, they may be able to trace someone to a terror network or to explosives, he said.
“At this stage of the investigation, when you have absolutely zero evidence of anything, you have to make an assumption that it was catastrophic and it could well have been terrorism or a criminal act,” he said.

Four MAS flight attendants sacked for taking part in rally-



Message to TAN SRI SYED MOKHTAR AL BUKHARY - Press Release ::: Press Report for DRB Group – Termination action against workers exercising their political rights is abhorred.

No comments:

Post a Comment