Robert Spencer

Could anything prevent an American plane suffering the same mysterious fate as Malaysian Airlines flight MH370?

Exactly what happened to flight MH370 is still unknown. Investigators and terror experts now believe the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was solely responsible for the downing of the flight, and did so deliberately as a suicide mission.

A friend of Captain Zaharie said, according to the New Zealand Herald, that Zaharie was “in no state of mind to be flying a Boeing 777,” as he “had personal issues; having recently separated from his wife - whom he had children with. It is thought his relationship with another woman was also on the rocks.” The friend said that Zaharie’s “world was crumbling and felt the captain had taken MH370 on a ‘last joyride.’”

While it is remotely possible that this was all there was to it, Captain Zaharie is by no means the first or only pilot to take the helm while his world is crumbling or he is distraught over a failing marriage; yet few have taken their planes on a “last joyride.”

What is more likely, albeit not conclusive, is that Captain Zaharie, who apparently reprogrammed the flight himself in order to take it hundreds of miles off course, was on a jihad mission related to his “fanatical” support for Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, who has recently been jailed on sex charges that his supporters say are trumped-up. The spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has praised Hitler and prayed that Allah would exterminate all the Jews, has endorsed Ibrahim for Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Anwar Ibrahim is a founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), which was named in a captured internal Muslim Brotherhood document as one of the Brotherhood’s “organizations of our friends” dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.” He has also served as a trustee for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), another Brotherhood organization.

None of this proves that Captain Zaharie was on a jihad-martyrdom suicide mission, but the possibility cannot be ruled out – as even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged Wednesday. And in light of recent warnings from the Department of Homeland Security about renewed jihad terror plots against airplanes, it is useful to ask if there are any safeguards in place to prevent such a plane takeover from happening in the U.S.

Imagine a pilot for a U.S. air carrier who was a “fanatical” follower of a political leader with extensive connections to a group dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” There could actually be such pilots flying commercial planes in the U.S. today, since there is absolutely nothing in place that would prevent it. As I detail in my new book Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In, counter-terror measures have been overwhelmed by a politically correct delicacy that places the fear of offending Muslims over the fear of mass murder, such that government, law enforcement and private businesses are today woefully unequipped – often by their own choice – to deal adequately with the threat of Islamic jihad.

As I detail in the book, the Obama Administration, under pressure from Islamic groups, many of which were tied to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2010 and 2011 mandated the removal from all counter-terror training materials of all mention of Islam and jihad in connection with terrorism.

In a sane society, a pilot who had allegiances such as those of Zaharie Ahmad Shah would be carefully scrutinized, and would not have had the freedom Zaharie apparently had to reprogram the direction of his flight, as well as to commandeer it under the nose of a stunned world. But as Arab Winter Comes to America shows, the premium is on political correctness, even above protecting airline passengers from suicidal ideologues. Consequently, not only has Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 apparently gone down, but there are almost certain to be many more tragedies like it in our future.


Robert Spencer

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of ten books.