News / Asia

    Malaysia Military Denies Tracking Missing Jetliner

    A Vietnamese Air Force crew member checks a map while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight off Vietnam's island Phu Quoc on March 11, 2014.
    A Vietnamese Air Force crew member checks a map while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight off Vietnam's island Phu Quoc on March 11, 2014.
    VOA News
    The Malaysian military is backing away from reports that it tracked a missing passenger jet far away from its intended flight path, casting further doubt on the plane's whereabouts. 
     
    In a statement released Wednesday, Air Force chief Rodzali Daud said he could not rule out that the Malaysia Airlines jetliner veered drastically off course. But he said a media report that claimed the military tracked the jet over the Strait of Malacca was "clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report."
     
    The Strait of Malacca is off the west coast of the Malaysia peninsula and is hundreds of kilometers from where civilian air traffic controllers lost contact with the Boeing 777. The initial search for the plane had focused mainly on the South China Sea, which lies off the east coast. 
     
    The plane, with 239 people on board, disappeared from civilian radar without any distress calls about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday.
     
    The Boeing 777 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished early Saturday, less than an hour after takeoff, without sending a distress signal.

    Turning off the transponder would make the aircraft unidentfiable to civilian controllers, but it would remain visible to the type of radar used by militaries.

    No apparent terror link

    The head of Interpol says the jet's disappearance does not appear to be related to terrorism. However, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said Tuesday that terrorism could not be ruled out.

    "You cannot discount any theory,"' CIA Director John Brennan said in Washington.

    Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble says new information about two Iranian men who used stolen passports to board the plane makes terrorism a less likely explanation for the jet's disappearance.

    The international police agency released photos showing the two boarding the plane at the same time.  They are identified as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29.

    Malaysian Police Inspector General Khalid Tan Sri says the 19 year old was likely trying to migrate to Germany.

    These images released by Interpol show Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, (left) and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29, who allegedly boarded the missing Malaysia Airlines jet with stolen passports.These images released by Interpol show Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, (left) and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29, who allegedly boarded the missing Malaysia Airlines jet with stolen passports.
    "We have been checking his background.  We have also checked him with other police organizations on his profile, and we believe that he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group," the inspector told reporters. "And we believe that he is trying to migrate to Germany."

    Khalid said Nourmohammadi's mother knew he was traveling on a stolen passport.

    The other man's identity is still under investigation.  But the development reduces the likelihood they were working together as part of a terror plot.
     
    Meanwhile, an extensive review of all of those on board continues.

    • A Malaysian police official displays a photograph of 19-year-old Iranian Pouri Nourmohammadi, one of the two men who boarded missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight using stolen European passports.
    • A Malaysian police woman holds up a picture of Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, an Iranian who boarded the now missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 with a stolen passport.
    • This combination of images released by Interpol and displayed by Malaysian police in Sepang, Malaysia, on March 11, 2014, shows Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, (left) and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29, who allegedly boarded the now-missing Malaysia Airlines jet
    • Military officer Duong Van Lanh works onboard a Vietnamese airforce AN-26 during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off Tho Chu islands March 11, 2014.
    • A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane looks out as she waiting for the latest news inside a hotel room for relatives or friends of passengers aboard the missing airplane in Beijing, China, March 11, 2014.
    • Family members comfort Chrisman Siregar, left, and his wife Herlina Panjaitan, the parents of Firman Siregar, one of the Indonesian citizens registered on the manifest of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner flight MH370 that went missing, Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, March 9, 2014.

    • Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman briefs reporters at a press conference on search and recovery efforts within existing and new areas for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane,Sepang, Malaysia, March 10, 2014.




    • A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane wipes her tears at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia, March 10, 2014. 
    • Chinese relatives of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane wait for the latest news inside a hotel room, Beijing, China, March 10, 2014. 
    • CEO of Malaysia Airlines Ignatius Ong, center, gestures as he prepares to speak to the media near a hotel room for relatives or friends of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines airplane, Beijing, China, March 10, 2014. 
    • People hold a banner and candles during a candlelight vigil for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 10, 2014. 
    • Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second from left, speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, March 10, 2014. 
    • Italian Luigi Maraldi, left, whose stolen passport was used by a passenger boarding a missing Malaysian airliner, shows his passport as he reports himself to Thai police Lt. Gen. Panya Mamen, right, at Phuket police station in Phuket province, southern Thailand, March 9, 2014.
    • A U.S. Navy helicopter lands aboard Destroyer USS Pinckney during a crew swap before returning to a search and rescue mission for the missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand, March 9, 2014. 

    ​Khalid says authorities are looking into four possible scenarios in connection with the plane's disappearance: hijacking, sabotage, personal disputes and the psychological condition of those on board.
     
    "There may be somebody on the flight who has bought huge sums of insurance. Who wants the family to gain from it. Or somebody who owes so much money and you know," he said, adding that they are looking at all possibilities.

    Air Malaysia says it is in negotiations regarding financial aid with relatives of the Chinese passengers on board.

    Cockpit visitors

    Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is also looking into an Australian television report that the co-pilot of the missing plane once invited two women into the cockpit during a flight.

    Jonti Roos said she and her friend stayed in the cockpit during the one-hour flight on Dec. 14, 2011, from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur. She also said the crew smoked during the flight.

    "Malaysia Airlines has become aware of the allegations being made against First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid which we take very seriously. We are shocked by these allegations. We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident,'' the airline said.

    Some information in this report was provided by Reuters news agency and VOA's William Ide in Beijing.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Acer
    March 11, 2014 2:35 PM
    It has been reported that the transponder was switched off?
    Has this been confirmed and if so why should it have been?
    Surely this needs investigation and steps taken to prevent this.

    by: c mcalester from: usa
    March 11, 2014 2:20 PM
    Maybe they should be looking in Yemen or Somalia
    In Response

    by: Ibrahim Muazzam from: Nigeria
    March 12, 2014 1:53 AM
    Why Somalia or Yemen, why not US or UK?

    by: Dr Salman Khan from: usa
    March 11, 2014 12:23 PM
    "Mystery Deepens..??" - hey, we have two Iranian scumbags who probably served as idiotic mules for IRGC - we have a filthy Iranian theocratic death cult... we have stolen passports, we have a middlemen buying the cheapest tickets for the mules to fly to Europe... where is the Mystery..?? the bombs just blew up prematurely... they were supposed to blow up over Europe... that's it - no mystery here...
    the real mystery is what are we propose to do about it... now, given the current WH, this is a big mystery..!!
    In Response

    by: polly from: cape
    March 12, 2014 2:27 AM
    ur an idiot...
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 11, 2014 5:14 PM
    Are you Okay? This is the tactic of Al-Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalists from Saudi and Egypt and arab countries not Iranians who have never ever target civilians. Why did they kill 159 Chinese passenger?
    In Response

    by: Guy Falkenau from: United Kingdom
    March 11, 2014 4:40 PM
    I'd be interested to know what discipline Dr.Khan's doctorate is in; - conspiracy theories perhaps.Until more facts are known this kind of speculation is simply unhelpful.As for what the WH is proposing to do about it, - I understand the US has already offered investigators to assist.Beyond that I'm not sure what locus the US has in this matter. Surely it is a matter for the Malaya and Chinese authorities, the aircraft being rgat of a Malaya carrier and a majority of the passengers being either Malay or Chinese.
    In Response

    by: Ali
    March 11, 2014 3:25 PM
    We have a Pakistani salafist like you who comments and spreads the words of hatard based on an unknown scenario when his commerades are spreading terrorism in an outlands . it is more likely that you plan an attack on US soil than these two innocent boys have done wrong.
    Comments page of 2
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