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Missing Flight 370: Al Qaeda link explored as 11 terror suspects arrested

According to a British newspaper, eleven terrorist suspects were arrested in Kuala Lumpur and the state of Kedah, Malaysia, last week and questioned about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. As the investigation into the missing Boeing 777 nears a full two months without a trace being found of the plane, it would appear that Malaysian authorities have finally gotten around to detaining al Qaeda-linked persons of interest -- the cliched "usual suspects" -- in a case that is long on mystery and short on definitive evidence.

More controversy concerning missing plane: Malaysia government officials are disputing a report that 11 al Qaeda operatives were detained and questioned about missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Laurent ERRERA, Creative Commons

But the Malaysian government is insisting that the arrests are unrelated to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. The Boston Globe reported May 5 that Malaysian officials dispute the report from the Daily Mail that quoted an anonymous government official associated with counter-terrorism who claimed that the eleven al Qaeda operatives arrested, although denying involvement in the disappearance of the missing aircraft, have raised suspicions about the possibility of a militant hijacking.

"The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group," the officer said, according to the Daily Mail.

"That's rubbish! This has nothing to do with the plane," Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told The Star (per the Globe) on Sunday.

The Daily Mail's story relies heavily upon the continuing belief -- one not dispelled by current evidence -- that Flight MH370 could have been hijacked by terrorists and forced to alter its course. This was fueled early on by fear of terrorists being aboard the plane, given that two Iranian students studying in Malaysia had boarded with false passports. However, it was later discovered that instead of possible terrorists, the young men had been involved in a smuggling exercise designed to spirit them away from Iran.

That mystery solved, it still left the matter of the unknown whereabouts and circumstances of missing Flight MH370 .

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 left Kuala Lumpur on a flight northward to Beijing, China, on March 8. It disappeared from land-based radar about halfway across the South China Sea. However, subsequent radar signals tracked by the Malaysian military indicate that the plane had altered course and had turned around.

Since then, every sort of odd and credible theory has been proposed to explain the missing plane and the possible whereabouts of the 239 passengers and crewmen that were aboard the flight. The odd theories range from a UFO encounter/abduction to a Bermuda Triangle-like paranormal experience. The more credible span ideas such as a hijacking to a catastrophic electronic cascade to Flight 370 becoming a "zombie plane" due to a possible disintegration of a load of lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold.

The massive international search for the missing plane is now exlusively underwater and centered over the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia. The sea floor is being scoured for the Boeing 777, authorities working on projections of fuel capacity, altitude, and speed of the airplane to hopefully eventually find Flight 370 and its missing passengers and crew. The final direction of the jet was determined from electronic pings received by a British satellite that placed the plane over a thousand miles west of the Australian coastline and headed in a southerly direction.

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