Arrested Islamic State suspect handled air safety for VIP flights carring business and political leaders

A man arrested for Islamic State (IS) links was an aviation technician responsible for local flights carrying business and political leaders, according to the South China Morning Post.

The 49-year-old, a former Royal Malaysian Air Force technician, has been employed for 13 years by a firm servicing planes used by the VIPs, and was responsible for determining airworthiness.

One unnamed security official said the man could have sabotaged an aircraft and smuggled weapons onto a plane.

“The suspect is a senior technician whose responsibility was to check that an aircraft is safe for use. He is the person who gives the green light whether an aircraft is safe to take off or not,” a security official was quoted as saying by the SCMP in its report Friday. The report said the aircraft maintenance company services chartered flights for “VVIPs” to travel domestic routes.

According to the report, the man was arrested in late March together with 14 others in several location in Malaysia over suspected link with the IS terrorist group. It added that while 14 others have been charged in court, investigation into the engineer was still underway.

“He has conducted religious classes where he propagated IS ideology,” the official was quoted as saying. He is known to actively support IS via his Facebook account. He has shown IS videos on his mobile phone to his friends with the aim of promoting ISIS,” the official added.

Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, head of policy studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Singapore, who also spoke to SCMP, said the discovery raised concerns of “insider threat of transnational terrorism”.

“Such a person would have the ability, at least in theory, to sabotage an aircraft with VVIPs on board either through by deliberately tampering with onboard systems, causing them to fail in mid-flight, or by placing an improvised explosive device onboard, assuming that he can gain access to one, or has the ability make one himself,” Kumar was quoted as saying.

The news report said the engineer was the second suspect in the aviation industry to have been arrested over alleged support for IS. It said that, an armed auxiliary policeman was arrested last year at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after he had allegedly helped the departure of his brother-in-law to Syria to fight for IS.

The police have, so far, arrested more than 160 IS suspects and based on the news report, at least 19 Malaysians are known to have died in Iraq and Syria fighting for the IS cause.

Source: South China Morning Post

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