A day after authorities all but confirmed that one of the two pilots flying Flight 370 were involved in its disappearance, a new report on March 16 claimed that one of them, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was a fanatically ‘obsessed’ political activist opposed to the Malaysian government, who watched his leader get sentenced to five years in prison just hours before takeoff. Could revenge be the motive for the vanishing of Flight 370?
The investigation of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 turned inward on March 14 when the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak concluded that the aircraft had been deliberately flown off course — and soon the plane’s two pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Abdul Hamid, became the prime suspects. Now, the digging done on Zaharie specifically has seemed to open some new leads, as investigators have reportedly discovered that he was a deeply political person who watched his party leader sentenced to prison just hours before he boarded Flight 370.
Zaharie Ahmad Shah: Was Flight 370’s Disappearance His Political Revenge?
Zaharie was reportedly an “obsessive” follower of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, according to Mail Online. On March 8, the day of the flight, Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison for sodomy, after his acquittal for the same charge was overturned. Human rights groups have since condemned the trial decision, and some have suggested that it was political, Huffington Post reports.
But the worrisome thing is that Zaharie was reportedly in attendance at this unjust trial, and just seven hours later he flew Flight 370, which was carrying 238 other passengers, out of Kuala Lumpur. There now seems to be the chance that Zaharie sabotaged the flight as a form of drastic political protest. Another harrowing note — a picture has emerged of Zaharie wearing an aggressively political t-shirt that says, “Democracy Is Dead.”
But not everyone is convinced of this conclusion. When the investigation on Zaharie heated up, his friends and family were quick to defend his reputation. Zaharie has been described as an aviation enthusiast and a positive member of his community, while a former coworker called him “very nice, very friendly and safety-conscious,” according to Huffington Post.
Flight 370 Missing: Pilots Likely To Blame
At the same time, it is hard to deny the strength of theory that either Zaharie or his co-pilot, Fariq, were responsible for diverting Flight 370, either by their own volition or by coercion.
The timing of the plane’s communication shutdown was so expertly carried out, suggesting an intimate knowledge of the plane and the route. “You needed to know this plane, and you needed to know this route,” Xu Ke, a former commercial pilot and now lecturer at the Zhejiang Academy of Police in eastern China who studies aviation security, told the New York Times.
Additionally, the model of the plane — a Boeing 777 — is relatively new, meaning that only a select group know how to fly it, and how to make it disappear. “The Boeing 777 is a relatively new and big plane, so it wouldn’t be anyone who could do this, not even someone who has flown smaller passenger planes, even smaller Boeings,” Xu also said.
— Andrew Gruttadaro