With mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet on Saturday, authorities are probing possible terror links to names on the passenger list.
Malaysia’s Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said local intelligence agencies were working with the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the question of whether a security breach or hijack may have played a role in what would be Malaysia’s worst-ever aviation disaster.
Asked whether Malaysia believes the plane was hijacked, he said: “We are looking at all possibilities.”
When asked how people could have boarded the plane with stolen passports, he responded: “This has to be… investigated.”
“We haven’t even decided on whether there is a security risk at all. We have to not jump the gun,” he said. “If it’s a security risk, let’s see where the lapse is. I have nothing to hide.”
After the plane’s disappearance, it emerged that two people boarded the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with stolen European passports.
He said the investigations were in their early stages and there were no indications of any security risk. The major task was still to locate the missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
“But, if there was a security risk, we will look into where the lapse was,” he said.
When asked to confirm Malaysian media reports that another two suspect passengers had been identified, he said that he had all four of the names that were being investigated.
There has been no terrorist claim or other evidence of a hijack or attack.
A civil aviation official later clarified that authorities still so far believe only two passengers had used stolen passports and were examining CCTV footage of them.
“There are only two passengers on record with false passports,” department of civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.
“We have CCTV recordings of the two passengers. The recordings in the CCTV are now being investigated. There is no four people, only two.”
Hishammuddin, who previously was home minister in charge of state security, confirmed US media reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was dispatching personnel to Malaysia.
“I have also spoken to international intelligence agencies to assist us, and I’ll be meeting them later this afternoon,” he said, adding the FBI was among them.
Vietnam has said its search planes have spotted oil slicks in seas near the plane’s last known position, but no other debris or wreckage has yet been found.