Expert: Possibility of MH370 Hijacking Very Low

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 Mar: The possibility that the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, which has been missing since early Saturday, being hijacked by terrorists is very low, international anti-terrorism expert, Professor Rohan Gunaratna said.

He said, this is because the Malaysian authorities have been very competent in dealing with terrorism.

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“The possibility of a terrorist attack is low because Malaysia has succeeded in controlling terrorist acts and are completely capable of countering terrorism.

“The Malaysian authorities have done a good job in the fight against terrorism,” he said when contacted by Astro AWANI.

However, Rohan has not ruled out a number of terrorist groups that have been actively operating around the Southeast Asia and East Asia region, might have the intention of committing terrorist acts involving aircrafts.

However, he said the modus operandi of these terrorists often involve activities on land or water and rarely include on aviation activities.

Rohan also declined to speculate which terrorist groups were likely to be involved, but he said there are groups which are active in the Southeast Asia and East Asia region, including Al-Qaeda and its splinter groups and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

He added that there are some terrorist groups operating in Indonesia, the Philippines, and the province of Xinjiang in Western China.

“But if this a terrorist act, Malaysia will uncover it, especially with the help of the special branch from the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP), ” said Rohan.

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He added that, despite the low probability of a terrorist act, every incident should be investigated thoroughly and that aspect of the investigation should not be dismissed too easily.

“The parties involved should perform a comprehensive investigation including technical and counter-terrorism because it’s very important,” said Rohan, referring to the use of false passports by two passengers on flight MH370.

Earlier Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia has already informed counter-terrorism agencies from various countries of false passport incident.

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He said Malaysia would be working with intelligence agencies, including the the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), on the matter. Three U.S. citizens were among the 239 people on board the plane that has been missing since early Saturday.

The Royal Malaysia Police is also working with international intelligence agencies to investigate the disappearance of MAS aircraft MH370.

According to Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, the police are collecting information from various parties in addition to reviewing closed-circuit cameras at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on the day of the incident until the plane took off.

Police have not ruled out that the missing plane was due to an act of terrorism.

Meanwhile, UM’s Department of International and Studies lecturer, Dr Roy Anthony Rogers also agreed with Rohan’s opinion. He believes that the probability of a terrorist attack against the aircraft is low.

“(But) I do not totally reject the possibility of it being a terrorist act, but based on the trends of previous attacks, they would usually hijack the plane, and the hijackers would usually bring the aircraft to a more selective and symbolic destination,” he said.

He said this because terrorism activities usually involve three things; the first one is hijacking, the second one is that they will send a clear message by attacking important places rather than sea.

Thirdly, he said the terrorist group would typically make them known and in this case, there were no reports of terrorist acts by any terrorist groups.

In the meantime a pilot from MAS who declined to be named, said security systems on Boeing 777-200 are now very sophisticated making any hijack attempt almost impossible .

“The aircraft has a high security level system in place. Especially after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, most aircrafts have installed a high security systems that prevents them from being hijacked,” he said.

He said the plane’s cockpit door is equipped with an access code and a closed circuit television (CCTV) and the pilot can see what is going on outside the cockpit .

In addition, there is also an alarm system that can be activated silently without the knowledge of terrorists.

Taken From: Astro AWANI

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