The disappearance this month of a Malaysian jetliner was a result of “an intentional, deliberate act,” the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said as more details emerged Sunday about the circumstances behind Flight 370.
“This was not an accident. It was an intentional, deliberate act to bring down this airplane,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that mysteries about the plane’s disappearance continue to develop. “But I think one thing is very clear that this was an intentional, deliberate act that unfortunately probably killed 239 people.”
Mr. McCaul said no evidence suggests terrorism but such a possibility shouldn’t be ruled out. He said the investigation is pointing toward actions on the part of the pilot and co-pilot, but the motivation and the intent are unclear.
The scheduled destination was Beijing, but the plane could have been diverted north toward Kazakhstan or, more likely, south toward Australia and Indonesia, he said.
“Now, two scenarios are here,” he said. “One is the plane ran out of fuel and landed in the ocean and it’s — you know, that’s a bad scenario. The other one is, it landed in a country like Indonesia, where it could be used later on as a cruise missile, as the 9/11 hijackers did.”
Malaysian officials said Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the Boeing 777 that took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, made contact with air traffic control even after the flight’s radar system went silent. Malaysia is seeking the help of more than two dozen other countries in its search for the plane.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has said the plane was steered off course deliberately and that officials were investigating a flight simulator found in the pilot’s home.
Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said on Fox that the pilot’s apparent signoff after the plane’s transponder was turned off is “damning evidence that indicates something was going on in the flight deck.”
“You’re going to go back and look at every transmission that had taken place between the aircraft and the controllers and do analysis, and see — even as far as stress analysis — to see if there’s anything different about this flight and their communications from normal flight,” Mr. Goelz said.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, asked whether there was specific evidence to point to a terrorist plot, said that “it’s too early to rule anything in or out.”
“We simply just don’t know enough information,” Mr. Pfeiffer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding that U.S. investigators were continuing to provide assistance in the search.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the possibility of terrorism was being investigated.
“This plane still may be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and I think a lot of folks that I talk to believe that’s probably the most likely, the most probable circumstances is that in fact it is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean,” Mr. Rogers said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “But you cannot quite yet rule out everything else because we don’t have the physical evidence we need to come to that conclusion.”
Whether the cockpit door was locked or unlocked is not known, either.
Hugh Dunleavy, commercial director of Malaysia Airlines, said the company maintains strict cockpit security. He disputed the account of a South African woman who said the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, had let her ride in the cockpit during a flight.