19 March 2014
Shoe bomb plot link revealed by al-Qaida informant last week being investigated
The Ottawa Citizen reports – London/Kuala Lumpur/Beijing — Evidence of a plot by Malaysian Islamists to hijack a passenger jet in a terrorist attack copying 9/11 was being investigated Saturday night in connection with the disappearance of Flight MH370.
An al-Qaida informant told a court last week that four to five Malaysian men had been planning to take control of a plane, using a bomb hidden in a shoe to blow open the cockpit door.
Security experts said the evidence from a convicted British terrorist was “credible.”
The informant said he had met the Malaysian jihadists — one of whom was a pilot — in Afghanistan and given them a shoe bomb to use to take control of an aircraft.
“These spectaculars take a long time in the planning,” a British security source said.
The possibility of such a plot, hatched by the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, was bolstered by an admission Saturday by Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, that the Boeing 777’s communications systems had been deliberately switched off “by someone on the plane.”
In a series of dramatic developments, it emerged that:
• Flight MH370 had changed direction and altitude after communications devices had been deliberately disabled;
• The plane flew for up to seven hours after civilian radar lost touch with it;
• An unnamed official briefed that the plane had been hijacked although Najib refused to confirm that;
• The plane flew towards either Indonesia or to Kazakhstan after the transponder and messaging systems were disabled;
• Police searched the homes of both pilots for two hours over concerns one may have switched off the communications systems in a suicide bid;
Chinese officials accused Malaysia of withholding information as diplomatic tensions between the two countries worsened.
In evidence in a court case last Tuesday, Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, England, said that he had been instructed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.
Giving evidence at the trial in New York of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Badat said: “I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit.”
Badat, who spoke via video link and is in hiding in the U.K., said the Malaysian plot was being masterminded by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.
According to Badat, Mohammed kept a list of the world’s tallest buildings and crossed out New York’s Twin Towers after the September 11, 2001 attacks with hijacked airliners as “a joke to make us laugh”.
Badat told the court last week that he believed the Malaysians, including the pilot, were “ready to perform an act.”
During the meeting, the possibility was raised that the cockpit door might be locked. Badat told the court: “So I said, ‘How about I give you one of my bombs to open a cockpit door?’ ”
The disclosure that Malaysians were plotting a 9/11-style attack raises the prospect that both pilots were overpowered and the plane intended for use as a fuel-filled bomb. One possible target, if the scenario is correct, will have been the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a symbol of Malaysia’s modernity and the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 until 2004.
Flight MH370 had been heading away from Kuala Lumpur over the South China Sea when it disappeared from civilian radar screens.