March 16th, 2014

The Flight 370 plot thickens

And it will get a lot thicker before this is through.

Captain Zaharie is now stepping to the forefront of authorities’ suspicions:

Captian Shah [Zaharie] was an ‘obsessive’ supporter of Ibrahim. And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala Lumpur it is understood 53-year-old Shah attended a controversial trial in which Ibrahim was jailed for five years.

Campaigners say the politician, the key challenger to Malaysia’s ruling party, was the victim of a long-running smear campaign and had faced trumped-up charges.

Police sources have confirmed that Shah was a vocal political activist – and fear that the court decision left him profoundly upset. It was against this background that, seven hours later, he took control of a Boeing 777-200 bound for Beijing and carrying 238 passengers and crew.

Ibrahim (also known as Anwar) seems like a relative good guy here, at least as best I can tell (and I can’t tell much, I freely admit). That certainly doesn’t mean all his supporters are.

This might explain the relative closed-mouthedness of the Malaysian government about the plane’s course and fate. However, if it was a political protest, it’s an extraordinarily extreme one for a pilot of all those years with a good record. And wouldn’t you think we’d have heard something from him by now about it? Protests only work if people know what’s being protested.

Of course, if Zaharie and the passengers are dead, we wouldn’t be hearing from him, except indirectly.

It was also announced that the plane may have sent a last ping while on the ground, and that Zaharie and his wife are either separated or divorced. And then there’s this: Zaharie or the co-pilot (or someone acting as pilot) seems to have spoken to ground control after one of the systems was turned off, and reported nothing awry.

I am relatively certain that there’s a lot more that authorities know that they’re not announcing.

[NOTE: Malaysian names turn out to be confusing, even to the newspapers. Sometimes people are referred to by one name, sometimes by another.

Here's information about Ibrahim's sodomy trials. This is a long-running tale in Malaysia, which sounds like quite a country---twenty-year imprisonment possible even for consensual sodomy, and a person can be convicted of sexual crimes on the testimony of one man or two woman. Sharia law.]

23 Responses to “The Flight 370 plot thickens”

  1. Don Carlos Says:

    Captaining a 777, a 30year career pilot who gets so rattled by a court verdict that he does something stoopid off the cuff 7 hours later? I don’t buy it.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos:

    There are still many many other possibilities. This is just one.

    If he’d shown other recent signs of instability, that would be of interest.

  3. RTsquard Says:

    I hope the authorities who searched the captain’s home had the good sense to investigate the flight problems he has been running on his simulator. There should be a clue there.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    RTsquard:

    Somewhere I read or heard a reference to that. They have seized the simulator and taken it.

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    I guess being a jihadi Muslim is not a sign of ‘instability’. A useful word in the psych realm; if you are stable in your nuttiness, you are not guilty of instability, I take it.

  6. waltj Says:

    Malaysia follows its own version of “Sharia Lite”, which, interestingly, doesn’t apply to its non-Muslim citizens, who make up around 35-40% of the population. A couple of the states, Terangganu and Kelantan, I believe, have stricter Islamic laws on the books, but Sarawak in Borneo, where Muslims are an absolute minority, has no Islamic laws at all at the state level.

    The Anwar Ibrahim trial has been a very long-running drama that has been going on since the first Asian financial crisis in 1997, and got started mostly because Anwar had the poor taste to oppose former President Mahathir. As I understand it, the sodomy charges were seen as an easy way to bring Anwar down, without going into (the usual) corruption allegations that could easily have boomeranged against Mahathir. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Anwar refused to roll over and play dead, and while the charges keep getting resurrected, he keeps fighting them. In the process, he’s built a substantial following. Whether his most recent courtroom setback was enough to push an experienced 777 pilot over the edge is something I can’t say, but I’d want to see better evidence of it than what the Malaysians have produced so far against Anwar.

  7. Don Carlos Says:

    The sodomy charge against Ibrahim comes right out of the Alinsky playbook: “isolate it, freeze it, personalize it.”

  8. oldschooltwentysix Says:

    At first, believed this was like UAL 93, but pings up to 7 hours does not fit.

    Times of Israel article says that Iran’s fingerprints are on this.

  9. JR Says:

    testing

  10. JR Says:

    Neocon,
    Agreed with you that all things be coming thicker.

    Neocon, I would like to bring you attention and also other readers specially who have technical mind and skills, please correct me if I am wrong in my words and thoughts.
    During been in airplane that before taking off and before landing we all instructed to turn off our electronic systems, and we know why as it may interfere with the electronic signals of the plane.

    During the rest of the flight all passenger are free to use their electronics.
    So as we know the Flight 370 bound for Beijing, so presuming some of passenger may be businessmen or those in first class seats, as new airliner we expected its comes with those flash service and communions most of us would have it during our flights.

    So some with Mobile phones, some with laptops or iPad and other similar tools and toys.

    So as any passenger would from time to time his eyes looks to his clock checking it more frequent when the plane reach the destination, and in same time may one or more passengers made phone calls or internet connection while the flight.

    As we know technically any communications for those sorts can be traced within the telecommunication companies who own the satellites and other means.

    Till now we did not hear of any light from this side, with all those conspiracy theorists we feed up from terrorists attack, high jacking to disastrous accident and one and one.

    We just need to know if any of passenger sent email made a phone call passing or talking some think about the flight.
    As I believe in today technology from those signals we can find the position of that devise wherever it might could be on the planet.

    Please correct me if I am wrong in this matter.

    Neocon, apologies for my test as my home pc keep not allow me to send my comment, so I start to send the Test to make sure its pass your firewall.

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    JR:

    I am not any sort of technical expert—pretty much the opposite, actually—but I would think that unless the person trying to call or to connect to the internet was successful, there would be no record of the attempt. So because it seems the plane was mostly over water, or very very high up, or over sparsely populated territories, it may be that no one who tried ever connected, and therefore there was no record of it.

    And if the passengers were killed early on (which is possible, if the pilot[s] have the capability of depressurizing the cabin, which I’m not sure they can actually do), then of course they wouldn’t have made calls at all.

    It is certainly also possible that authorities are checking this sort of thing and not telling us what they’ve found.

  12. renminbi Says:

    There have been three commercial flights deliberately crashed into the ground, that I know of. They were Egypt Air 990, off Nantucket in1999, Silk Air 185 in Indonesia in 1997 and LAM 470 in Mozambique in2013. You can Google those for details. In these cases the FDRs and CVRs were recovered.
    Evil oft will evil mar. I suspect we have something similar with Malaysian Flight 370, except I suspect the black boxes will never be found in this case.
    The political analogy for what happened to Anwar Ibrahim would be Obama having Romney arrested on rape charges before the election. Yes, it smelled that bad.

  13. Amy Says:

    “However, if it was a political protest, it’s an extraordinarily extreme one for a pilot of all those years with a good record. And wouldn’t you think we’d have heard something from him by now about it? Protests only work if people know what’s being protested.” YES.

    I think this new theory only makes sense, and only a little sense, if there is a passenger on the plane connected somehow to what is supposedly, politically or familially, pissing off Captain Zaharie.

  14. RTsquard Says:

    One of the baffling mysteries of this has been that an unidentified and uncommunicative 777 could overfly Thailand and Malaysia (the peninsula) while being observed by military radar without either air force scrambling an interceptor to investigate.

  15. J.J. Says:

    I will trot out one fact that I’m sure of. The cabin pressure on any modern airliner can be controlled from the cockpit. If the cabin pressure was increased gently to 13,000 feet, all the passengers and flight attendants would get sleepy and then become unconscious. Not exceeding 13,000 feet would not cause the passenger oxygen masks to deploy. After the pax and attendants are all unconscious, the cabin altitude could be raised and the oxygen mask deployment would not be noticed. Raising it further into the death zone above 18,000 feet would eventually kill all on board. The pilots could survive with their oxygen masks on, but their oxygen supply is not inexhaustible. Eventually the pilots would have to re-pressurize the aircraft to below 10,000 feet so they could go off oxygen. That is one scenario for taking over the aircraft from the cockpit. Of course, the co-pilot would have to be in on it or killed by the Captain. That’s a pretty bizarre scenario, but this is a bizarre aviation mystery.

    Other than that, I have no opinions to offer.

  16. Richard Saunders Says:

    My theory is less political and more anthropological: Captain leaves cockpit to go to bathroom or something. First Officer Romeo takes opportunity to invite hot chick who has been making eyes at him into cockpit. Romeo decides now would be perfect time for him and chick to join the Mile-High Club, locks cockpit door. Whilst in the heat of the moment, so to speak, one of them bumps transponder switch off, the other pulls on the yoke, sending plane to 43,000 feet and off course. Everybody conks out due to lack of oxygen, autopilot returns plane to normal cruising altitude, plane flies itself until it runs out of fuel and crashes into the Marianas Trench, never to be found. unless James Cameron decides to look for it.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

  17. Lee Says:

    It has gone the way of American Pride FLight 29:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZml5XCoYn8

    And flown through a time rip!

  18. renminbi Says:

    An interesting factoid. Three of the four AC deliberately flown into the surface were piloted by Moslems.

    Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch) reports that Anwar Ibrahim was involved with a Muslim Brotherhood front.
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/03/democracy-is-dead-pilot-of-missing-malaysian-airliner-was-fanatical-supporter-of-muslim-brotherhood-linked-politician?utm_source=Jihad+Watch+Daily+Digest&utm_campaign=37ca344dcc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ffcbf57bbb-37ca344dcc-123393250

  19. Amy Says:

    If it’s a jihadi martyrdom by the captain, you would think he would want to communicate that fact. And maybe he did, but that information is not being shared.

  20. Surellin Says:

    Another factoid – it is being reported that the captain’s wife and children moved out of the house the day before the flight. Can we add “crazy with grief and rage” to the rest of the possible motivations? Or possibly they were getting out of Dodge before the posse showed up.

  21. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    As a terrible thought, what if the passengers were murdered either by the first rise in altitude by the missing plane, or, immediately after the ones who finally piloted it regained control, by a deliberate decompression of the passenger area—with the few people in control prepared with oxygen masks. Once everyone but the terrorists have died, the small handful of terrorists could empty the plane of everything that could be moved to a door as it flew over water, removing many, many tons of weight, thus making the fuel last longer because of the much lighter plane. It could have stayed in the air longer and flown much farther than if it was “heavy” with passengers.

    Wouldn’t this make a considerable difference in the range of the plane??

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Minta Maria Morze:

    Many people think they may have murdered the passengers by decompressing the cabin. It is a definite possibility, and they wouldn’t have needed to go as high as 46,000 feet to do it. If they decompressed the cabin and used oxygen themselves, even a much lower altitude (30s or even less) would cause unconsciousness and death. The only thing the greater height would do would be to do it a bit more quickly, but it would be relatively quick even at normal cruising altitudes.

    That said, I doubt they could have dumped the passengers without being sucked out themselves. I’m no airplane expert, but I think something like that is quite dangerous while going at high speeds and anything but a very low altitude.

  23. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    I guess I just don’t like the idea that all limits can be judged by averages and manufactured tolerances. I think to myself, if someone wanted to do XYZ, how would they do it? And then I try to think of a way within a certain proximity of the tolerances and constraints.

    The information as it has been dribbled out is of handshakes at points along an interpolated path, each separated by as long as an hour. We don’t really know how low they flew at any given moment, or how slow. For a portion of one of the hours, low and slow makes it possible. Moreover, I think that anyone involved with what this looks like had enough courage to do what they felt they had to do.

    The captain had 18,000-plus hours, and a flight simulator at home. He was an acknowledged expert. And we don’t really know how much of the information we are being given is accurate. I have to believe that the involved governments know a lot more than they say about everything they talk about.

    I am just saying, we can’t eliminate the possibility that the plane was made capable of flying farther than is assumed by lightening the load.

    But then, for all we know, our people know where the plane is and are waiting to see what will happen to it before they act. Or there are already ransom negotiations going on. Or . . . And all sides are playing mind games with each other, that we do know.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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