Tag Archives: Usa

Update: Increasing Suspicions of Deigo Garcia as MH370 Destination

When I wrote the original article, Where Malaysia Flight MH370 may have gone, and why in the evening of Monday March 17th, there was no mention of Diego Garcia in relation to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, except for a report that the plane’s pilot had flight simulator software at home, with many of the airports around the Indian Ocean and Asia, including the runway of the US base at Diego Garcia.  That was not of great significance to me at the time, given that I would imagine many commercial pilots would have flight simulator software at home, installed with most of the airports near home and within flight range of home.  So this did not stand out, not nearly as much as the other factors I mentioned in that article.

The Malaysian Insider reported the on the software, with a few specifics left out from many mainstream articles:

“Among the software we checked so far is the Male International Airport in Maldives, three airports in India and Sri Lanka, and one belonging to the US military base in Diego Garcia. All have a runway length of 1,000 metres,” a source told the Malay daily.

The article is interesting in that it notes a specific denial by US authorities:

The US previously rejected claims that the plane could have landed at their base on the atoll in the central Indian Ocean, which is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

However, the attention on the flight simulator software and the airports involved did give the mainstream media one more thing to discuss in the never-ending drone of in-depth continuous reporting. And in attempting to gather up and reporting anything of any possible significance at all, some very significant bits of information were brought forth.

In particular, this quote from an article in the Daily Mail Online:

The investigation into the Diego Garcia, an overseas territory of the UK, which is rented to the US and is now a huge American naval base follows fresh eyewitness accounts of a ‘low flying jumbo jet’ being spotted in the Maldives.

The Maldives is a chain of islands south of the southern tip of India, roughly halfway between India and Diego Garcia.

Plane spotted over Kuda Huvadhoo, Maldives

Plane spotted over Kuda Huvadhoo, Maldives

People on the island of Kuda Huvadhoo reported seeing a plane on the morning of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, according to a Haveeru, a news website in the Maldives.

The report also indicates the low-flying plane was traveling “in a north to south-east” route, towards Addu:

Islanders said a white aircraft with red stripes across it – which would match the missing plane – was seen travelling North to South-East towards Addu, the southern tip of the Maldives.

There are three runways in the area south of India that are capable of supporting a landing by MH370:

In addition to a south-eastern course, witnesses described a very low altitude flight:

An eyewitness told the website: ‘I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We’ve seen seaplanes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly.

‘It’s not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.’

On a north-to-south route, the island of Kuda Huvadhoo where the low-flying plane was sighted, would have been well beyond Malé, about half-way to Diego Garcia, but this report of the south-eastern flight direction, and the low altitude, could indicate an approach for landing at the Gan Airport at Addu.  However other reports indicate the plane was flying at a low altitude long before it reached the Maldives.  If this plane was in fact MH370, it is more likely to be a continued attempt to remain below radar.

To me, this is further evidence that the reports of the two exit routes, wide arcs maintaining a great distance away from Diego Garcia, may be government misdirection, as I indicated in my earlier article.  (I also have a fairly specific theory of motive that I will publish in a new separate article.)

Under different circumstances, I might be tempted to conclude this article with “time will tell”, but if there is intentional withholding of information by one or more governments, or even intentional misinformation and misdirection on the part of authorities, we may never know what actually happened.

Where Malaysia Flight MH370 may have gone, and why

 

This is a long shot, but I have not seen any mention of Diego Garcia in relation to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.  In fact, this article seems to stray from the mainstream parroting of talking points so far that I tend to question it repeatedly myself.  Yet with so much mystery circling around  the disappearance, and the revelations that a satellite continued to receive signals from the jet for 4-5 hours after the normal on-board location transmitters stopped, it is fairly clear that this is an extraordinary event even beyond that of a mid-air tragedy.

The Disappearance

Authorities report that transmissions from the on-board automated communications stopped a some point between 1:07 am (the last such message received) and 1:37am (when the next connection have been expected).  It was during this period that the last voice radio message (“All right, good night.”) came from one of the pilots.  At 1:21am, the plane’s transponder shut down.  At 1:30am, the plane disappeared from Malaysian civilian aircraft radar.

At 2:15am, if we accept the report of the unidentified craft on Malaysian military radar as being flight MH370 (and it does fit the time/location parameters of where it could be), then it seems to have taken a sudden turn almost due west of that last transmission.  Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement over this radar blip being the plane, and it seems to be the basis for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak reporting Saturday that the plane’s flight path was “consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.”

Note again, that if this blip on the military radar was indeed MH370, then the change in course was almost due west from the location where the transponder was shut off.

The Continued Contact

Now it seems that one communications system remained enabled, unknown to whoever was in control of that aircraft. Malaysia Airlines was not paying for a subscription for that satellite service, which means the plane could not connect to the satellite, however it was making regular attempts to contact the satellite.  It is reported that after the transponder communications ended, this continued for approximately 4 additional hours (roughly 5 hours total).  It is also reported that if the plane was airborne for that length of time, it would have traveled for an 2200 nautical miles (2532 miles, or 4074 km) at it’s normal cruising speed of 490 knots (about 560 mph).  That speed is close to the maximum cruising speed for a Boeing 777-200ER, which is 590 mph. (That 2200 nm distance is important later, below.)

The Mystery and the Contradiction

Officials suggest two possible exit corridors

Officials suggest two possible exit corridors

If the report from the military radar is correct, the plane flew almost due west from the location where contact was lost.  Later coverage of the Malaysian Prime Minister’s press conference (such as this one from themalaymailonline.com) described a wide arc providing two possible exit corridors (map from themalaymailonline.com shown to right).

However, I feel this is unlikely for several reasons:

  • Unless acting with China’s blessing, the northern route would be an extremely risky route. At altitude, the plane would be easily spotted by military and civilian radars. At lower altitude, the terrain is some of the most mountainous, and thus most treacherous, in the world.
  • The first leg of the plane’s escape route was due west. This is almost perfectly perpendicular to both of the routes later suggested.  It is almost completely contradictory to the other reports, and it seems we must believe Malaysian military report of an object on the radar, or the later satellite analysis.  Furthermore, the southern route would likely be to a destination near the edge of the plane’s fuel capacity limit, thus it would be highly risky to start with a western heading, decreasing the possible range to the south. Ideally, once the change of course was revealed, the plane would be sent to the destination as quickly as possible.

As a result, I believe Occam’s razor applies: the plane was flying west, because the intended destination was generally to the west.

Western Destinations

There are many scenarios based on that heading due west. The first is the International Airport at Langkwai, on an island just off the coast on the eastern side of Malacca Strait.  It was probably the closest airport with a runway long enough to safely land.  However, if the pilots were attempting to land there, they would have either succeeded, or the plane would have very likely gone down withing a few hundred miles of that location, with more witnesses and better coverage on the Malaysian military radar.  It is also very unlikely that the communications would have continued for an additional four hours.

So that encourages alternative scenarios.  The first is Sri Lanka, which is almost due west, extending that course to almost to the limits of its fuel.  There are plenty of historical scenarios that might explain this, for example a resurgence of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) who, incidentally, have been known to have engaged in sea piracy. Commandeering a plane filled mostly with Chinese passengers would bring an extra level of political stakes to any hostage situation, possibly causing hesitation by authorities to end the crisis with an assault on the plane, fearing international repercussions. That is just one example of a group that may have interests.

Diego Garcia

The second scenario is similar, but in this case it involves the Chagossians, who were forcibly removed from their home by UK and US interests.   Their home was Diego Garcia, a coral atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  It is officially British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and the former residents have been fighting in the courts to be able to return to their homes.  In May 2006, the High Court of Justice in England ruled in favor of the Chagossians return, however that was later appealed to the House of Lords where the UK government won in a 3-2 verdict. Wikipedia describes this as “ending the legal process in the UK and dashing the islanders’ hopes of return”, which is likely very understated.

Either of these groups might have radical elements who have decided to take action, perhaps at least in order to raise awareness for their causes.  However, another possibility exists, a much more sinister scenario, that also involves Diego Garcia, below.

Skills and Knowledge

It seems that whoever was in control of MH370 new a great deal about commercial air flight, and also showed a aircraft skill, flying at a Boeing 777 low altitude of 1500m and using “terrain masking”.  It was clearly not a make-shift hijacking attempt, and appears to have had plans made well in advance of the flight.  The transponder was switched off just as it disappeared from Malaysian commercial radar, and the course change happened right at the point of the hand-off between two Air Traffic Control groups.  The themalaysianinsider.com (via Yahoo News) shows possible runways within the 2200 nm radius where the plane could have landed. Diego Garcia is highlighted (see right).

The Dark Background of Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia is now the home of a US Naval Support Facility (NSF).  It has a dark history of taking whatever is wanted, and in addition to the expulsion of it’s former residents, there have been “continued allegations of a prison camp on Diego Garcia”, which may also be the source of it’s US nickname, “Camp Justice”.  On July 31, 2008, TIME reported that “in 2002 and possibly 2003, the U.S. imprisoned and interrogated one or more terrorism suspects on Diego Garcia.” Earlier in 2008, The Guardian reported:

In 2004, the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, confirmed to parliament that there was a detention centre on Diego Garcia. Planning documents show it was ‘upgraded’ in December 2001. Ships operating offshore have also been used as floating ‘black sites’ to hold detainees, according to human rights groups.

This is where motive starts to take form (also from the same article by The Guardian):

The official, a frequent participant in White House Situation Room meetings after Sept. 11 who has since left government, says a CIA counterterrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being held and interrogated on the island.

In an article entitled “Island paradise or torture chamber? CIA under fire for secret detentions, Indian Ocean atoll alleged abuse site”, The Toronto Star reported that “Diego Garcia’s geographic isolation is now being exploited for other, darker purposes.”  More from The Toronto Star article:

These prisoners are known as “ghost detainees” or the “new disappeared,” and they’re being subjected to treatment that makes the abuses at the military-run Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba look small-time, say intelligence analysts.

B-1B Lancer Bombers on Diego Garcia, November, 2001

“Diego Garcia is an obvious place for a secret facility,” says American defence analyst John Pike. “They want somewhere that’s difficult to escape from, difficult to attack, not visible to prying eyes and where a lot of other activity is going on. Diego Garcia is ideal.”

What is known about CIA activities is that, since 2001, the agency has been transferring or “rendering” suspects to third countries for aggressive interrogation.

Among them, it’s claimed, are three top Al Qaeda lieutenants: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (who Pike believes is being held on Diego Garcia), Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaida. The Southeast Asian terrorist Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, is also one of the disappeared, according to Danzig’s organization and another advocacy groups.

There is much more in that Toronto Star article; while it is now 8 years old, it is highly recommended reading.

Location, Location, Location

Where exactly is Diego Garcia, in relation to the known flight path of Malaysia Airlines MH370?

MH370 known flight, and possible path to Diego Garcia

The next questions to answer is whether MH370 had enough fuel to reach Diego Garcia, and how that fits with the reported timeline?  The answer is: very well, it seems.

According to somemaps.com, from the point where MH370 appears to have made the unscheduled course change, the original flight to Beijing would have been additional 2125 nautical miles, or about 4 hours 22 minutes flight time at it’s normal cruising speed of 560 mph:

Now let’s compare that to an alternate flight to Diego Garcia. From the point where MH370 appears to have made the unscheduled course change, the alternate flight to Diego Garcia would have been almost exactly 2100 nautical miles, or about 4 hours 18 minutes flight time at it’s normal cruising speed of 560 mph:

And what are the reports? That the flight continued on for just over 4 hours.  Hmm.

 The plane would have turned almost exactly at the point where it would have the same flight time to both Beijing and Diego Garcia.  For knowledgeable passengers, many of whom would be sleeping at 1:30am, the flight time would match almost exactly. And by flying through the night, with only ocean below, the low altitude may not have been very obvious. Furthermore, by flying west, the plane was flying away from the eventual sunrise.

The Motive

Readers who won’t accept government involvement may wish to stop reading now, or better yet, take another look at The Dark Background of Diego Garcia section above. If you’re ready to continue, try to imagine this:

  • What might happen if the US determined that flight MH370 had a high-value individual aboard, or one that they simply could not allow to fall into the hands of Chinese authorities, or both?  How far would US intelligence officials go to protect those interests, or assets, or threats? They wouldn’t actually hijack a commercial airliner… would they?

It was only 8 months ago that, on mere rumors and suspicions that Edward Snowden was aboard the Bolivian Presidential aircraft, that a foreign leader was forced to land, and President Evo Morales was “kidnapped” and held “hostage” (his words) while the plane was searched.  According to CNN, President Morales claimed:

“This is a lie, a falsehood,” he said. “It was generated by the U.S. government.”

“It is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation,” he said.

In 2011, Morales said he was worried that U.S. authorities would plant something on his presidential plane to link him with drug trafficking when he attended a United Nations General Assembly meeting.

“I think they have to be preparing something,” he told a convention of female farm workers. “So much that I’m afraid to go with our airplane to the United States.”

About a month later, unknown UK “security officials” at Heathrow Airport (who would not give a name, only a number) detained David Miranda, partner of journalist Glen Greenwald, when his flight from Berlin to his home in Brazil made a stop in London.  Although there was clearly no connection with terrorism, Miranda’s phone and computers were confiscated, and he was held against his will in a complete abuse of power claimed under the Terrorism Act 2000. In an article he published the same day, Greenwald reported that the UK government:

completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists”, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

Then comparing this attack on “family and loved ones” to the ethical rules the Mafia lived by, he clearly tied this action to the US government:

But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.

Although accepted as accidental by most accounts, the US Navy is also responsible for shooting down Iran Air flight 655, a commercial airliner “in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path”, resulting in the deaths of 290 passengers, including 66 children:

USS Vincennes Aegis large screen displays

In particular, Iran expressed skepticism about claims of mis-identification, noting that the Vincennes had advanced Aegis radar that correctly tracked the flight and its Mode III beacon; two other U.S. warships in the area, Sides and Montgomery, identified the aircraft as civilian; and the flight was well within a recognized international air corridor. It also noted that the crew of the Vincennes was trained to handle simultaneous attacks by hundreds of enemy aircraft.

These cases may have absolutely nothing to do with MH370, but certainly do show that the United States can get away with just about any action it takes.  There are also numerous cases that show that the US will do whatever its authorities believe is necessary in the pursuit of its global interests.

It is also worth noting that the Toronto Star article quote above refers to the Diego Garcia detainees as “the disappeared”.

Summary

I’m breaking journalistic rules by speculating in such an extreme manner, but I readily admit that I am not much of a journalist.  Yet, a week ago, I did so and speculated that the plane was commandeered, and likely flew west from the disappearance area.  That it was likely one of the pilots, perhaps not both, or at least someone aboard the plane with very good commercial airline skills.  It seemed outrageous at the time, but seemed to make the most sense to me.  Then the Malaysian government confirmed a signal to the west, and I started investigating different, more specific, scenarios.

I don’t know what happened to MH370. I don’t know if Diego Garcia was the destination, or if the plane made it to the airbase runway on the atoll.  And if it did actually happen completely without any advanced knowledge of US or UK officials (e.g. someone on the plane trying to fly there to seek asylum), we probably would have heard about it by now.  That is, unless the plane flew in below radar until it was detected by the US Navy and shot down as a suspicious inbound undeclared flight, and a commercial flight with the transponder shut off… If the plane went down off the coast of Diego Garcia, there is hardly a more remote spot in the world, and in full control by US and UK military; we’d never find the plane as long as the US provided “helpful” information showing the most likely routes are no where near Diego Garcia.

But too many of the details are just too good. The time of the flight, the low-altitude travel, the timing of the course change, the distance between destinations, the importance of Diego Garcia as a CIA black site, and as a critical hub for rendition flights.  I do think the significance of Diego Garcia matching most of the known evidence should not be overlooked.  And with the history of US rendition flights to Diego Garcia, there is enough circumstantial evidence to raise some questions.

But what of those reports of the two exit corridors? They don’t really match a flight to Diego Garcia very well.

That is true, but it seems particularly convenient and suspicious that the US wants to focus on the Indian Ocean while claiming the satellite connection attempts indicate anywhere but the Indian Ocean.  Whose satellite is that? (I don’t know.) But it would be interesting to investigate where that report is coming from, and if it could be misdirection by government.

Take another look at any one of those “exit corridor” maps.  And note that the reported information is that the satellite (which is just south of India at the equator) indicates the plane was most definitely VERY FAR FROM ME!  And… that satellite position is just west of… well… Diego Garcia.  It is as if the reports are: “Don’t look here, LOOK WAY OVER THERE!”

It also seems to me that the exit corridor report came out shortly after the report of the military radar contact started gaining significant traction.  That report, which did not originate from a US military vessel or base, was likely unplanned and unexpected by most.  The satellite information was not released at first.  It is suspiciously convenient.  In my view, that information was provided, by someone, to the Malaysian PM, specifically to direct the press and the public away from a western flight path.  I am not sure if that report of the distance from the satellite can be trusted.