A member of the House Intelligence Committee said the two Iranian men using stolen passports to board a missing Malaysia Airlines jet are being extensively investigated, but authorities still need to investigate the background of the others on board.
“We really can’t rule anything out. We do know a lot more about these two passengers, but we probably know more now about those two passengers than we do with the other more than 200 who were on board,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN. “So, we’re scouring the manifest, seeing if we can make any connections with any other passengers on board. We’re looking for any kind of chatter. Was there any evidence that we had before this of an airline plot around this time or in this location?”
A senior Malaysian Air Force official told CNN Tuesday that the flight’s transponder turned off shortly before reaching the coast of Vietnam — on its planned route to Beijing — then turned around and flew hundreds of miles back over the Malaysian peninsula until it dropped off radar above tiny Pulau Perak island in the Straits of Malacca.
“So far, I think it’s fair to say that nothing has leapt out at us. It could be, you know, a plot that was hatched in Southeast Asia that didn’t involve someone on the aircraft, but someone who put something on the aircraft,” Schiff said. “So, you know, we can’t rule anything out. I think that’s certainly fair to say. You just don’t have a plane of this size go completely missing and be able to rule out any possibility.”
Schiff said there was no indication of a link between the missing plane and the toothpaste bomb warning that was issued before the Sochi Olympics.
“And that’s exactly what we’re looking for, connections to those threats. But also did we hear any kind of chatter about airline plots that might be connected to this? Were there things we saw earlier but didn’t make the connection and now, with this missing plane, there may be a connection? Are there groups taking responsibility? Sometimes that can be misleading,” the congressman said. “…We’ve seen also cases in the past where there were psychiatric problems among the pilot or crew. That could be a cause and a factor. It still could be a mechanical failure but we’re going to be obviously scouring all the intelligence leads while we search for the aircraft.”
“…The pilots look well-trained. The airplane looked like it was in good condition. The weather was good. This is why it was so mind boggling that this plane has just completely vanished.”
CIA Director John Brennan said at the Council on Foreign Relations today that they’re not ruling anything out.
“I think there’s a lot of speculation right now. Some claims of responsibility that haven’t been, you know, confirmed or corroborated at all. We are looking at it very carefully. We, CIA, are working with FBI, and — and TSA and others. Our Malaysian counterparts are doing everything they can to try to put together the pieces here, but clearly this is still a mystery, which is very disturbing, and until we actually can find out sort of where that aircraft is, we might have an opportunity to do some of the forensic analysis that will lead us in the right direction,” Brennan said.