Breaking developments in the biggest aviation caper of all time point to the captain of the missing plane being a “fanatical” political activist who may have been highly upset over the Malaysian government’s recent jailing of the leader of the opposition movement in his country.
Sources say only seven hours prior to taking-off on flight MH370, the Boeing 777 captain even attended the controversial trial of Anwar Ibrahim, the political opposition leader accused of homosexual sodomy, a serious crime in Malaysia.
According to investigators quoted in The UK Daily Mail Online, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was described by a colleagues and co-workers as “obsessive” over politics, and as a “social activist” who was “vocal, fervent, and strident in his support for Anwar Ibrahim.” Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years in prison by the Malaysian government just before captain Shah climbed into the cockpit of flight MH370.
All indications are that captain Shah and other supporters of Ibrahim believed the case against their leader to be a trumped-up political persecution, and officials have expressed concern that the missing plane and people on board are the result of an angry pilot’s rogue political protest hijacking.
Based on this scenario, the odd fact that a veteran aviator such as Shah (who became a commercial pilot in 1981) had a homemade flight simulator–such an experienced pilot wouldn’t really need to train on one at home–would support the theory that he had already, prior to the actual trial and its outcome, been planning and practicing some kind of radical, evasive maneuvering of the aircraft; to lash out at the Malaysian government by hijacking his own flight in the event that his political hero, Ibrahim, turned out to be jailed by the authorities. If so, an extremely unusual, difficult landing on some unimproved, remote airfield for the purposes of staging a hostage scenario could have been part of his computer flight simulations.
Despite sources being unable to confirm for certain whether Shah was actually among the crowd at Ibrahim’s trial, investigators received assurance from his colleagues that he had intended to be there.
Adding to the plot’s thickening and to increased focus on the plane’s captain, The UK Mirror reported that on the day before flight MH370 went missing, Shah’s wife and three children moved out from the home they shared with him. Although The Daily Mail reports that Shah was believed to be either divorced or separated from his wife, they were said to still be living in the same house.
Did the circumstances of an apparently deteriorating family situation combine with exasperation over the prosecution and imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim to push captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah into finally carrying out some kind of political protest hijacking? For all we know, Shah devised a scheme to abscond with the 777, evading detection in order to land somewhere remote, then, with the assistance of others in the Malaysian opposition movement, use the hostage passengers as bargaining chips in a ploy to help bring about a change of government in Malaysia.
Focus has dropped away from the plane’s co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, and has intensified on Shah. But a friend of Shah’s, a political secretary to a Malaysian MP by the name of Peter Chong, was quoted in the Mirror staunchly defending Shah as “a very caring person, who puts people ahead of himself,” and someone who would be “the last person” to carry out a hijacking.
Chong told the Sunday Mirror: “I would trust that man with my life. He loves people and being involved in something like that would hurt people. I would not believe he was involved in any way at all. If I went on a plane and was allowed the choice of a pilot, I would choose Captain Zaharie.”
According to the Mirror, Mr. Chong said he saw Shah a week before the plane’s disappearance, and that the two had agreed to meet up this week. Chong said Shah had been “his normal, cheerful self.”
It’s hard to know just what to think and to believe about it all at this point. I’m reminded a little bit of the tremendous amount of mystery and suspense in October of 2002 surrounding the identity, location, and next moves of the heinous “Beltway Snipers” who terrorized my community, our nation’s capital area, for three weeks. This time, however, the drama and the element of danger is, or perhaps was, so relatively remote from where I sit typing in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. This time. There will be a next time. In politics, war, and crime, you can count on that.