New information on two passengers from Malaysia Air Flight MH370 — which disappeared without a trace off the coast of Vietnam on Friday — raises the possibility the plane was bombed as part of a terrorist test run. If confirmed, the guilty organization’s silence means more attacks may be forthcoming.
While reports remain unsettled, most agree that two unknown individuals purchased tickets for the flight stolen fake Italian and Austrian passports. More ominously, the tickets were purchased together through an Iranian middleman, known to a travel agent only as “Mr. Ali.”
Terrorist organizations usually claim responsibility for their attacks, especially successful ones. But it wouldn’t be the first time an airliner was bombed without a confession, some experts can’t help but compare this mystery to an earlier bombing plot.
On December 11, 1994, Philippine Airlines Flight 434 was bombed en route to Japan, killing one passenger and narrowly missing the aircraft’s fuel tanks. Although the plane landed safely, no one stepped forward to take responsibility for the attack.
A few weeks later, an apartment fire in The Philippines led police to the apartment of Ramzi Yousef, an al-Qaida terrorist later convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. There, they found a laptop tying Yousef to the bombing — in fact, the terrorist had himself placed the bomb under his seat during the first leg of the flight.
But more disturbing were the plans they found for a catastrophic attack on planes flying to the United States. Dubbed “Operation Bojinka,” it called for the simultaneous bombing of 11 airliners en route from Asia to the United States. The flight bombed by Yousef had been a test run, and the terrorists avoided taking responsibility in order to keep their broader plan a secret.