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Focus on pilots of missing Malaysia Airliner, investigation troubling

As the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 enters the ninth day, uncertainty and politics prevail in identifying the cause of the missing flight. What little evidence revealed in the investigation underscores a number of gaping holes in security protocol and the United States government's continuing struggle to utter the “T” word - terrorism.

Aiport security CCTV of Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Hamid, the pilot and co-pilot of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines

Law enforcement officials in Malaysia have searched the homes of the pilot and co-pilot for clues. A flight simulator was recovered from the captain's home. Investigators are reviewing the backgrounds of all of the passengers to see if any of them were trained pilots.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters on Saturday that the plane veered off course due to apparent "deliberate action" taken by somebody on board.

Satellite data analysis revealed the Boeing 777-200 may have flown up to seven hours after the last contact with the one of two possible “corridors.” One route would have taken the plane through areas with extremist Islamist groups and unstable governments, as well as remote, sparsely populated areas. A second route is over the vast Indian Ocean.

During the latest press conference, Prime Minister Najib Razak stated that in light of the latest developments, authorities have refocused their investigation to the crew, ground staff and passengers on board.

One day after Flight 370 disappeared from the radar, Reuters reported that Malaysian officials launched a terror probe into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight after learning that two passengers on board the plane used stolen passports.

The mystery flight evidences gaping holes in international aviation security. In 2013, over one billion passengers boarded airplanes without their passports being checked against Interpol's database of 40 million stolen or lost travel documents from 167 countries.

On Sunday, day nine of the investigation, the Telegraph reports that evidence has emerged of a possible 9/11 style plot, after an al-Qaeda member testified in 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.

The convicted terrorist testified that 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.

British security experts said the evidence from the convicted British terrorist is “credible”.

The unprecedented search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people on board continues by air, land and sea. Twenty five countries, including the United States are assisting in the search and investigation scouring thousands of miles from Kazakhstan to the Indian Ocean.

There are unconfirmed reports that countries such as Pakistan and India may not be cooperating with investigators.

In the more than 12 years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. Soil, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has yet to provide lawmakers with a single, clear definition of terrorism. The old adage, “One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter” still prevails.

U.S. national security experts, political scientists and scholars agree that one clear definition of terrorism will be difficult, though (arguably) necessary.

U.S. lawmakers have shown little interest in limiting the scope of the definition of terrorism. The broader and vaguer the definitions of terrorism are, the more federal homeland security grant funds they can get for their respective states and districts.

The overwhelming consensus among leading non government aviation and national security experts is that human hands are to blame for the disappearance of the mystery flight, whether it was hijacked, suicide by drowning or some other form of sabotage. One international counter-terrorism expert said it is plausible the mystery flight could be the world's first "cyber hijack," speculating that hackers could have taken control of the plane remotely via mobile phone.

Based on the latest satellite data and evidence that the plane's communication systems shut down separately, Aviation Analyst for ABC World News and Good Morning America, John Nance told CNN that mechanical failure is no longer a factor.

If the aircraft was deliberately sabotaged, it is terrorism, if not the government's definition -- a deliberate act would meet the goals of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda handbook states the goals of the organization to assassinate enemy personnel as well as foreign tourists. Terrorists groups seek to cause mass physical, financial and psychological damage and airplanes have historically been a favorite weapon.


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