The pilot of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was a "strident" supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Daily Mail on Sunday reported.
Hours before the plane took off, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah reportedly attended a session of Ibrahim's long-running court proceedings. His colleagues said the captain was preoccupied with Ibrahim's trial.
The British tabloid said its own investigation of the pilot showed him to be a "political fanatic" and that he kept a makeshift flight simulator in his private home.
If the name Ibrahim is slightly familiar it is because he is a former deputy premier of Malaysia.
He broke with the ruling Barisan Nasional Party and founded an anti-corruption reformist Islamic movement.
He has been involved in lengthy proceedings following his imprisonment for alleged corruption and homosexual activity-- such activity is formally illegal.
Ibrahim is currently out on bail and the leader of the Malaysian parliamentary opposition. He is planning to run for re-election in his constituency on March 23.
Though viewed as a moderate— Ibrahim is prominently supported in the U.S. by Al Gore— he has spoken darkly of a conspiracy between the Malaysian government, the United States and Israel. He said that the Jews were manipulating Malaysian foreign policy.
This Ibrahim angle may explain why the Malaysian authorities have been so cagey about releasing information.
Even if it proves a dead end -- it might have proved explosive so they may have wanted to be cautious.
At its outset, Ibrahim's movement received Saudi funding, according to the Israel-based Gloria Center. His International Institute of Islamic Thought is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Discover The Networks.
Investigator are examining the possibility that the pilot's political and religious leanings are somehow related to the plane's disappearance.
How running a plane into the ocean helps Ibrahim's cause is not easily apparent.
But then, why did First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti of EgyptAir Flight 990 possibly drive his Boeing 767-300ER into Long Island Sound in October 1999?
But to Zaharie. He had been with the airline since 1981 and a captain for about 10 years.
The background of co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid is also being investigated in light of photographs showing that he unlawfully allowed female passengers into the cockpit on a previous flight.
Additionally, reportsalso emerged of the presence of an aviation engineer among the passengers, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph
reported -- and here I think this is a stretch -- that Saajid Muhammad Badat, a British-born al-Qaida informant, told British authorities that he was aware of a long-standing plot by a group of Malaysians— one of whom reportedly was a pilot— to hijack and airliner.
Badat said he once supplied the cell with a shoe bomb and that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now being held in Guantánamo, was the plot's original organizer.