Eleven Al Qaeda suspects were arrested in Malaysia last week. Why they were arrested has become a controversial point.
On Saturday, British tabloid The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed Malaysian counterterrorism official saying the 11 were being investigated for any ties to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s March 8 disappearance.
An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said yesterday the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight?s disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.
"The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group," the officer said. In interviews conducted so far, some suspects have admitted planning "sustained terror campaigns" in Malaysia but denied being involved in the disappearance of the airliner, he added.
By Sunday, however, Malaysian officials told Al-Arabiya the Mail report was “rubbish.”
The suspects had reportedly formed a new terror group that is believed to be carrying out bomb attacks in Muslim countries. They were arrested last week in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah.
"That's rubbish! This has nothing to do with the plane," Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told The Star on Sunday.
Flight 370 disappeared about an hour after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, touching off a massive search across the Indian Ocean. While searchers did detect “pings” from the flight’s black box or flight recorder, no wreckage or debris has been found.Scalese can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @BertoScalese.