The massive search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished without a trace from the skies over the South China Sea continues on Monday. Three days after the disappearance, investigators admit there is very little evidence to explain how a Boeing 777 could vanish from sight.
On Sunday, Vietnamese officials announced that a low-flying plane spotted what investigators believed to be a door from the missing Boeing 777 jet in waters about 56 miles south of Tho Chu island, where oil slicks were reportedly evidenced on Saturday.
In a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, officials said samples of oil taken from the sea where a door to the Boeing 777 jet was believed to have been spotted were not from an aircraft.
On Monday, search teams from Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand are aiding Malaysian authorities in a vastly expanded search that stretches to the Gulf of Thailand, which is part of the South China Sea that lies between several Southeast Asian countries.
Malaysia's Civil Aviation Chief, Azaharuddin Abdul Rahman said officials reviewed surveillance footage that captured two men who used stolen passports to board the aircraft confirmed the men were not of 'Asian descent."
Law enforcement officials were investigating an Iranian man identified only as “Mr Ali” who bought the tickets for passengers who used stolen passports on the missing Malaysian plane. Authorities said “Mr Ali” purchased the tickets from a travel agent after insisting he wanted “cheap” tickets.
In a separate news conference earlier on Monday, Malaysia's Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed reports that in an open letter, a terrorist group calling itself the Chinese Martyr Brigade claimed responsibility for the incident.
On Sunday, 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. Aviation experts said it is possible that the plane disintegrated mid-flight.
Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence subcommittee and former Chair of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee told NBC on Sunday that there was no distress call, no mayday, or signal of any kind.
Rep. King stopped short of calling the incident an act of terrorism, however, Kind clearly did not rule out the possibility of terrorism.
Rep. King noted.that the plane came out of Malaysia, which has been a hub of hijack activity. Prior to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, there was a meeting in Malaysia and that many of the 9/11 hijackers went through Malaysia.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) further stated:
“So you put all that together and you have two people travelling with stolen passports on the same flight, this has to be looked at and I can assure you that our counter-terrorism people are scrolling through all the databases and looking at getting the identification of the two who were travelling on stolen passports."
In addition to the insane possibility that a Boeing 777-200 has not been located three days after it was reported missing is the revelation that stolen passports are not uncommon.
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.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in a statement Sunday that the agency has long asked why countries would "wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates?"
Whether the stolen passports had anything to do with the fate of the missing aircraft, Interpol hopes national authorities will "learn from the tragedy."
Terrorism is only one theory in the mysterious Malaysian Airlines flight incident. However, it would not be the first incident in which terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda have carried out 'trial runs" before large scale terrorist attacks.
In 1995, Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult that carried out sarin gas attacks on Tokyo's subway, resulting in twelve deaths and approximately 5,000 people being treated at area hospitals.
The attacks occurred at the height of Tokyo's morning rush hour. Japanese officials said 5 two-man terrorist teams from the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult boarded separate subway trains and covertly released Sarin gas into the air. The terrorists then took a sarin antidote and escaped.
The cult carried out several previous attacks, leaving cult members frustrated that nobody realized what was occurring. A similar mysterious incident in 1994, a sarin attack killed seven and injured 200 in Matsumoto Japan. In another unexplained incident, experts later determined members of the cult carried out a "trial run" two weeks before the deadly assault -- after passengers in a subway car traveling outside of Tokyo complained of feeling sick. Eleven subway passengers were hospitalized, but authorities never identified the cause.