Malaysian Airlines Flight 370: Investigators Clear All Passengers of Terror Activities, But Looks into Pre-Departure Cockpit Phone Call Made by Pilot

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By Vittorio Hernandez | March 23, 2014 5:45 PM EST

Peter Chong holds up his smartphone to show a photo of himself with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah during an interview with Reuters at a hotel in Sepang March 18, 2014. International media scrutiny and investigations by the Malaysian police have failed to turn up red flags on either the captain, 53-year-old grandfather Zaharie, or the co-pilot, 27-year old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Family and friends say there is nothing in their personalities or past to suggest they would have committed foul play.
Peter Chong holds up his smartphone to show a photo of himself with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah during an interview with Reuters at a hotel in Sepang March 18, 2014. International media scrutiny and investigations by the Malaysian police have failed to turn up red flags on either the captain, 53-year-old grandfather Zaharie, or the co-pilot, 27-year old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Family and friends say there is nothing in their personalities or past to suggest they would have committed foul play. "I've never seen him lose his temper. It's difficult to believe any of the speculation made against him," said Chong, a friend of Zaharie, describing him as highly disciplined and conscientious. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT)

Despite 2 Iranian male passengers known to have used stolen passports and another passenger with knowledge of flight simulation, Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declared on Friday that foreign intelligence agencies cleared all the passengers aboard the ill-fated Flight 370.

However, while Malaysian law enforcement officials told U.S. authorities that they found nothing personal on the personal computers of pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid whose houses were raided, there is an international probe into a pre-departure cockpit call made by Mr Zaharie.

Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive of Malaysian Airlines,  disclosed the phone call made by the pilot, whose actions are speculated to be political because of his links with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim whom Malaysian courts meted the day before the plane disappeared a five-year jail term for sodomy. Mr Zaharie, it turned out, is related to Mr Anwar and he attended the trial on March 7.

British tabloid The Sun reported that Mr Zaharie made a cockpit call just minutes before the Boeing 777 jet left Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am and disappeared after a few hours. It remains missing after 2 weeks of intensive search by more than 2 dozen nations.

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The police raid on Mr Zaharie's home yielded a flight simulator with three aviation programs - Flight Simulator X, IX and X-flight 10. The first two are made by Microsoft sold to the public. According to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Kahlid Abu Bakar, the data logs of all the 3 programs were erased on Feb 3.

The pilot's home-made simulator was sent to the FBI to retrieve and analyses the wiped out data.

Meanwhile, in an update on Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott disclosed that with the discovery by China of another object on Saturday of another object in the Indian Ocean, the global search is on the road to discovering what really happened to the plane.

He also cited the discovery by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority of several small objects identified by a civil aircraft used in Saturday's search operations.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Peter Chong holds up his smartphone to show a photo of himself with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah during an interview with Reuters at a hotel in Sepang March 18, 2014. International media scrutiny and investigations by the Malaysian police have failed to turn up red flags on either the captain, 53-year-old grandfather Zaharie, or the co-pilot, 27-year old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Family and friends say there is nothing in their personalities or past to suggest they would have committed foul play. "I've never seen him lose his temper. It's difficult to believe any of the speculation made against him," said Chong, a friend of Zaharie, describing him as highly disciplined and conscientious. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT)
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