Officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane with 239 people on board say oil slicks spotted by rescue crews in the South China Sea do not belong to the aircraft.
Malaysian maritime officials spotted the slicks and sent a sample to a lab to see if it came from the plane, but the results were negative, said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, at a press conference late Monday.
More than 48 hours after the plane disappeared from radar screens, a multinational search team consisting of dozens of ships and aircraft had failed to find any sign of the aircraft’s fate.
Rahman said that investigators were pursuing “every angle,” including the possibility of an attempted hijacking, in an effort to understand what happened that caused the plane to vanish early Saturday morning, local time.
“We don’t know exactly what happened to the aircraft,” he said late Monday, insisting that a search and rescue operation was still ongoing – not a disaster recovery mission.
Searchers were dealt a double blow Monday when a floating yellow object that was believed to be a life raft from the plane when it was spotted Sunday turned out to be the moss-covered cap of a cable reel, according to Vietnam’s civil aviation authority. Earlier in the day, Vietnamese officials said that they had not been able to locate a rectangular object that appeared to be one of the plane’s doors.
Doan Huu Gia, the chief of Vietnam’s search and rescue coordination center, said Monday that four planes and seven ships from Vietnam were searching for the rectangular object but nothing had been found.
The oil slicks are unrelated and there’s no wreckage being found, so what happened to this plane? Are they even looking in the right spot? The area they’re searching is based on the plane’s intended flight path, but what if that path changed for some reason?
American Thinker has a theory on the possibility of a terrorist hijacking the plane because the majority of the passengers were Chinese.
The disappearance in the Gulf of Thailand of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to Beijing, China after 2 hours 5 minutes of normal flight has all the trademarks of a terrorist attack against China by Al Qaeda. China’s Ministry of Defense on November 30th began militarily enforcing an expanded Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the oil rich Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and was about to claim a new ADIZ covering the oil-rich Spratly/Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. These ADIZs are highly contested by Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and South Korea.
The loss of Flight 370 follows the spectacularly gory March 1st attack by Uighur Muslims that killed 33 and wounded 143 at the Kunming railway station in southern China. Both assaults appear to have Al Qaeda’s terrorist trademark of attacking symbolic public venues to inflict highly media-visible casualties.
Recently Muslim Turkic Uighur militants, who have been fighting an insurgency for years in the remote northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang against Chinese rule, changed tactics and began organized attacks against large cities. The targeting of random civilians in populated areas matches the “tradecraft” of Al Qaeda affiliates, who are known for identifying high-visibility targets, using surveillance to find security weaknesses and then contriving effective means to exploit the vulnerability. Senior Al Qaeda planners are always looking for novel approaches, such as using jumbo jets as human-guided cruise missiles in America and blowing up the train station near the Sochi Olympics with an improvised explosive device hidden as a pregnancy prosthetic.
On October 28th, three Uighurs drove a jeep around a barrier and sped toward Tiananmen Square, the most politically sensitive spot in China. They crashed into a wall next to the large portrait of Mao Zedong that hangs near the entrance to the Imperial Palace. The car was then detonated, killing the passengers along with two tourists and wounding 38. On March 1st, a group of around 10 knife-wielding Uighurs traveled 3,000 miles to stab victims indiscriminately at Kunming railway station in Yunnan, China. Police shot and killed four attackers and arrested one female attacker, but several Uighurs escaped. The area was covered in blood from the 33 killed and 143 wounded.
The Chinese Communist Party called the Kunming attack an “organized, premeditated, violent terror attack” and Chinese President Xi Jinping told the country to maintain a high level of awareness about the dangers of terrorism and urged police to increase security measures, especially in crowded areas. To calm public fears, populated transportation centers are now visibly inundated with black-clad anti-terrorism troops.
The disappearance of Flight 370 occurred during the politically sensitive annual meeting of the China’s National People’s Congress (CNPC) and People’s Political Consultative Congress (PPCC) that began March 5th. In the past five years, the total assets of Chinese banks have exploded by an unprecedented $15.4 trillion to an epic $24 trillion – some two and a half times the nation’s entire GDP. In contrast, the U.S. has twice the economy of China and American banking assets grew by only $2.1 trillion over the same period. With American domestic energy costs falling as supplies surge due to the boom in fracking for shale oil and gas, Chinese manufacturers are becoming economically uncompetitive compared to the U.S. producers. With trillions in debt beginning to default, China stepped-up military spending by 12% and is determined to aggressively assert military claims to oil-rich islands off Asia held by other nations.
China’s Ministry of Defense on November 30th began enforcing with fighter jets and warships an expanded ADIZ, which now covers a huge ocean expanse of the East China Sea, including the disputed oil-rich Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, currently held by Japan. China has drafted a South China Sea ADIZ that would include the Spratly/Nansha Islands, currently held by the Philippines. It was rumored that a new ADIZ would be declared next week at the end of the CNPC and PPCC.
Blowing up Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 loaded with Chinese citizens during China’s most important leadership meeting; where they were about to militarily establish another Air Defense Identification Zone, is consistent with Al Qaeda tradecraft. Such a spectacular feat would demonstrate Al Qaeda has opened a new terrorist front against China.
Are the terrorist attacks connected to the disputed ADIZs as the AT suggests? Is it the work of the Uighur militants? Since the massive stabbing incident was highly visible, as is the disappearance of a plane full of Chinese people, I’d say yes.
What’s China’s next move, if any?
(h/t to Hardnox)