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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Malaysian Airline Pilot was said to be a good MUSLIM

Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet's Pilots Under Scrutiny

March 15, 2014

Aviation investigators are looking closely at the two pilots at the controls of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 when it vanished, after concluding that the aircraft's mysterious disappearance a week ago as a deliberate, criminal act.

Although there are no reports of evidence linking either man to wrongdoing, Malaysian police say they are examining the pilots' psychological backgrounds, as well as their families and connections, as part of the investigation into the plane's disappearance on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Bejing. 

On Saturday, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the missing plane's satellite and radar data showed the plane had flown on for hours after its automated communications were disabled, movements that "are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane."

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As a result, Najib said, investigators had "refocused their investigation into crew and passengers on board."

Initially, investigators had focused on two Iranian passengers who had boarded the plane with stolen passports

Najib stopped short of calling the disappearance a hijacking, but a Malaysian official, who was not identified, told The Associated Press that hijacking was no longer a theory. 

"It is conclusive," the official said.

Shortly after Razak concluded his press conference, police arrived at pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home to search for evidence, a police official told Reuters. 

Zaharie, 53, and his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid are being described as respectable, professional pilots. Shah had built his own flight simulator in his home, and Hamid had just been promoted to flying the Boeing 777. 

But Hamid had already raised some eyebrows by inviting two South African women to sit in the cockpit of a plane he was steering from Phuket, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur. 

Ahmad Sarafi Ali Asrah, the head of a mosque near Fariq's home, said he was "a good boy, a good Muslim, humble and quiet," and he doesn't "think he is a playboy."
Fariq joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007 and had just 2,763 hours of flight experience.

Meanwhile, Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. He was born in northern Penang state and was an aviation enthusiast who flew remote controlled aircraft for a hobby and posted YouTube videos on home appliance repair.

While he had extensive flight simulator equipment at his home, he was certified by Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation as a flight simulator examiner, and Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said "everyone is free to do his own hobby."

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government has repeatedly rejected assistance from Interpol to help in its investigation of the missing aircraft, a senior Western law enforcement official claimed to ABC News.  

"It's the old pre-9/11 approach: close-hold information, don't share anything," the unnamed official said. The lack of cooperation has some law enforcement officials worried that investigative time has been lost and key witnesses may have gone into hiding or scattered. The source told ABC that the FBI also has not been invited by the Malaysian government to help solve the mystery.

The airline says it has shared all its available information with authorities from the moment it learned the aircraft disappeared. 

Singapore aviation lecturer Paul Yap told AP that airplane cockpit rules point to some scenarios that could involve the pilots. Cockpit doors on planes, by law, are required to be reinforced to withstand bullets and must be locked from the inside before a plane takes off, according to security standards enforced by the International Civil Airline Organization after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. 

"First (scenario), the people involved in the deliberate actions are the pilots, one of them or both of them in cahoots," Yap said. "Then we have a scenario where terrorists make the pilots change course and switch off the transponders under duress, maybe threatening to kill passengers."

While the cockpit doors are locked on take off, MH370's transponder was switched off when the plane reached its cruising altitude, which is when pilots often leave the cockpit for a coffee or bathroom break.

If passengers rather than the pilots were involved in the plane's disappearance, the focus could return to two Iranians, Seyed Mohammed Reza Delavar, who used a stolen Italian passport to board the plane, and Pouria Nourmohammadi, using an Australian passport.

But Interpol Chief Ronald Noble on Tuesday said it's believed the two are illegal immigrants who went through Kuala Lumpur to reach Europe, and information suggests the two are "probably not terrorists."

Terror analysts say Malaysia houses people alleged to be operatives of militant Islamic groups, although it's not been targeted in any terror attacks. But China also has been facing opposition in its far west regions from Muslims who complain of Chinese repression.

In addition, officials said, Malaysia has deported at least 17 Muslims who were using fake passports to travel back to China since 2011.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports, Najib said the hunt for wreckage around the plane's scheduled flight path has been called off as the search widens into the Indian Ocean, and he insisted the government is "investigating all possibilities" concerning the missing aircraft.

New data show the plane and satellites last communicated at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time, about seven hours after it dropped off civilian air traffic control screens just an hour after takeoff. At that time, it was flying toward Vietnam.

Sources told Reuters that it's likely the plane turned south over the Indian Ocean, where it's probably it ran out of fuel and crashed. It may have also headed over India, but that is not likely because India's strong air defense system would have spotted the jet.

But the course that took the plane over the Andaman Sea and toward the Indian Ocean could have only been set deliberately by programming the autopilot or flying the jet manually, aviation sources said.