MH370 passengers get clean bill on terror suspicion

Acting Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (second left) foreign intelligence agencies have found nothing 'suspicious' among the passengers on board Flight MH370 after doing repeated background checks. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Acting Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (second left) foreign intelligence agencies have found nothing 'suspicious' among the passengers on board Flight MH370 after doing repeated background checks. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21— After repeated background checks, foreign intelligence agencies have found nothing “suspicious” among passengers on board Flight MH370 to suggest a link with any global terrorism activity, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

“I can confirm my discussion with some of the intelligence and international agencies have come back to me that (they have) not found anything unusual from the manifest,” the acting transport minister said in a press conference which was broadcast live on television.

He added that Malaysia had specifically requested that the background information of the passengers be “relooked” following terrorism fears worldwide.

Hishammuddin also said that Ukrainian police had cleared two of its nationals who were on board the missing flight.

Malaysian police have maintained that four possibilities are still being pursued — hijack, sabotage, psychological and personal problems — in the case now classified under Section 130C of the Penal Code, which covers hijacking, sabotage, and terrorism offences, among others.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States is awaiting the arrival of the flight simulator belonging to MH370 pilot captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, for them to retrieve data logs that local investigators said were “deleted”.

According to a Fox News report citing unnamed US law enforcement officials, FBI agents in Malaysia made the request to the bureau’s headquarters in Quantico, Virginia for the computer forensics team to extract the information.

The simulator was retrieved from Zaharie’s home on March 15, the same day Malaysia announced that it was all but certain that the disappearance of the Beijing-bound Boeing 777 with 239 on board a week earlier was due to “deliberate action” from someone but whose identity is not known.

Hishammuddin confirmed this today, saying that relevant information has been forwarded to international parties and that an update on the matter will be made by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Malaysia law enforcement officials previously informed the US counterparts that nothing suspicious was found on the personal computers of both Zaharie and his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid.

The plane has now been missing for two weeks exactly.

Searches are ongoing along two wide arcs that experts believe the Beijing-bound MH370 may have taken after it deviated west.

The first, a northern corridor, would have put it over land on a central Asian path.

But satellite images of objects in the southern Indian Ocean, some 2,500km off Western Australia, is the “best lead” investigators have at the moment of finding the aircraft and its passengers.

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