Suspicion Falls on Pilots in Malaysia Jet Search

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As investigators continue to analyze the evidence, the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet has deepened, from Australia to Khazakstan.

There is growing evidence Malaysia Flight 370's disappearance was no accident and the plane deliberately diverted.

"There's two possible trajectories here. One southward into the Indian Ocean and one more northward toward Western China, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan," Erik Stakelbeck, CBN's Terror Analyst said.

CBN News Terror Analyst Erik Stakelbeck discusses the indications of the strange Malaysian jet disappearance on "The 700 Club," March 17.

Investigators haven't ruled out hijacking, sabotage, pilot suicide, or mass murder. They are also checking the backgrounds of all passengers and crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems, or psychological issues could be factors.

Most of the suspicion has fallen on the pilots because of their aviation experience. Investigators are focusing in on their personal lives.

Authorities say the jet carrying 239 people was deliberately diverted and its communications equipment switched off. It doesn't appear anyone on board had the skills to perform the sophisticated maneuvering that marked the plane's mysterious midnight run, including a pre-programmed hard left turn.  

"I think it is pretty outrageous that it took Malaysian government about a week to search the pilots' homes and start investigating them and the crew and the passengers," Stackelbeck said.

The data transmission system was also turned off and the location transmission cut. Experts said there is only one goal in intentionally shutting off those systems: to make it very difficult to find the aircraft.

In addition, someone radioed in the cockpit "all right good night."

"The pilot and co-pilot should have been the focus from the start. That would be ordinary law enforcement, investigatory procedures," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

"The FBI could have been called to help that," he continued. "Interpol could have been called in, our intelligence agencies. But my understanding is that Malaysia is not really cooperating at all (and) are very reluctant to lay what they have out on the table."

There have been reports that the pilot, Capt. Zahairi Ahmad Shah, was an ardent follower of a Malaysian opposition leader, sentenced to prison the very day of the ill-fated flight. The co-pilot has also previously broken safety standards in the cockpit.

At the home of Capt. Shah, police confiscated two laptops and his home flight simulator, seen in a YouTube video he posted.

"I can't imagine him doing anything to hurt himself, passengers, the property," Chris Nissen, Shah's friend said.

Still, there are reports the men did not ask for any extra fuel for the flight, and they made no special request to fly together. Investigators said that makes the idea of a conspiracy between the two appear less likely.

U.S. officials say the plane most likely ran out of fuel in the South Indian Ocean where Australia is now coordinating the search. 

Twenty-six countries are looking for the plane. The United States has sent a P-8A Poseidon, the most advanced long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world, to search the Indian Ocean.

The U.S. Navy also has deployed the destroyer USS Kidd.

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