American intelligence wants the backgrounds of Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, 53, and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, examined
|In the frame: Shah with wife and two of his children|
( March 24, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The wife of pilot Zaharie Ahmed Shah is to be interrogated amid growing suspicions he may have hijacked missing flight MH370.
Mother-of-three Faizah Khan faces questioning in an investigation supported by the FBI as the search for the plane enters its third week.
American intelligence agents are said to be steering Malaysian officials towards examining the backgrounds of Captain Shah, 53, and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.
However a source close to the probe revealed today that vetting on Hamid is almost complete – and has so far thrown up nothing untoward.
It means Shah has now become the primary focus.
The insider said: “There seems to be nothing in the life of Fariq Hamid to suggest a motive for hijacking.
“The personal life of Zaharie Shah, however, is far more complex and is in the process of being unravelled.”
It appears the pilot’s marriage had deteriorated to the point where he was no longer in a relationship with Faizah, despite them still living together with their children.
His unstable domestic situation together with his support of a political opposition leader recently jailed in Malaysia means his background is coming under close scrutiny.
Police are also examining reports that he received a two-minute phone call shortly before take-off from a mystery woman using a mobile number obtained using a false identity.
They are treating the call as significant because anyone buying a pay-as-you-go SIM card in Malaysia has to fill out a form giving their identity card or passport number.
The number was traced to a shop that sells SIMs in Kuala Lumpur.
It is still hoped clues may emerge from Shah’s three-screen home flight simulator, on which he played three games – Flight Simulator X, Flight Simulator 9 and X-Plane 10.
FBI agents in the US are continuing to examine the simulator’s hard drive in an effort to glean any clues about what may have happened, or what files he may have deleted.
Officials have also seized the financial records of all 12 crew members, including bank statements, credit card bills and mortgage documents. But investigators are now increasingly convinced the most plausible explanation for the jet’s disappearance with 239 on board lies in the cockpit.
They believe the cabin crew – either together or one person working alone – locked themselves in and hijacked the Boeing 777.
Flight MH370 - Search Map
The theory emerged as France provided new satellite data showing possible crash debris in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.
The new information given to Malaysian authorities and relayed to international search teams shows “potential objects” in the same part of the ocean where similar images have been previously released by Australia and China.
Authorities are said to have completed a second round of vetting of each of the passengers, including two Iranians who were travelling on false passports, and cleared them all.
A transcript of exchanges between the pilots and air traffic control has also been examined – in particular the 14 minutes between 1.07am and 1.21am, during which the first signs emerged that something was wrong.
At 1.07am, 26 minutes after take off, the plane’s Acars signalling device sent its last message before being disabled.
Then, at 1.19am co-pilot Hamid spoke his last known message – “All right, good night” – to air traffic control as the jet moved into Vietnamese airspace.
Specialists are analysing his voice pattern to try to establish if Hamid was under any kind of duress or coercion.
Two minutes after the final message the plane’s transponder was turned off, apparently deliberately. MH370 slipped off Malaysian radar screens nine minutes later.
It turned west and flew on for almost seven hours, probably in a southerly direction.
The plane briefly flashed up on Malaysian military radar – showing it to be way off course.
Getty Chinese relatives of passengers from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave after another meeting with airline officials at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing.
Initially it had been suggested that a sudden decompression may have left all those on board unconscious.
This could have meant the flight was able to continue on autopilot for several hours before crashing. But the only suggestion of a fire or explosion on board comes from an oil rig worker who claims to have seen a “burning object” over the sea off the coast of Vietnam.
Experts are also believed to be sceptical over claims that an electrical fault may have caused a catastrophic malfunction some time after the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing on March 8.
They fear the flight’s baffling disappearance is more likely to have been the result of a “deliberate act” by a “person or persons on board”.
But the grim truth is that nobody knows anything for certain – and that may remain the case unless the plane’s black box can be recovered.
Australian maritime officials involved in the search confirmed yesterday that they were studying the new satellite information from the French.
Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: “The images show potential objects in the vicinity of the southern corridor.”
Eight aircraft yesterday continued to search for the reported debris 1,430 miles south west of Perth.
( Source – Agencies)