| WASHINGTON, March 10
WASHINGTON, March 10 Investigators in Malaysia
are voicing skepticism that the Malaysian airliner which
disappeared early Saturday was the target of an attack, say U.S.
and European government sources close to the probe.
Neither the Malaysian agency leading the investigation
locally, Special Branch, nor spy agencies in the United States
and Europe have ruled out the possibility that militants were
involved in downing the aircraft, which suddenly disappeared
while flying at 35,000 feet en route from Kuala Lumpur to
However, Malaysian authorities have indicated that the
evidence so far does not strongly back an attack as a cause and
that mechanical or piloting problems could be explanations for
the apparent crash, the U.S. sources said.
One U.S. source said that one of the main reasons Malaysian
authorities were leaning away from the theory that the plane was
attacked is because electronic evidence indicates it may have
made a turn back towards Kuala Lumpur before it disappeared.
However, even that information has not been clearly
confirmed, and investigators and intelligence sources say the
fate of the plane is still shrouded in mystery.
"There is no evidence to suggest an act of terror," said a
European security source, who added that there was also "no
explanation what's happened to it or where it is."
The Malaysian Special Branch is exchanging information with
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the sources
A law enforcement official said that the FBI, which stations
agents, known as legal attaches, in U.S. embassies overseas, was
in touch via those agents with authorities in both Kuala Lumpur
Two U.S. government agencies responsible for aviation
safety, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal
Aviation Administration, and Boeing, manufacturer of the
missing aircraft, have sent officials to Kuala Lumpur to assist
in the investigation if requested.
However, the FBI has not sent a special team of
investigators to Asia because it has not been asked to do so and
because it has not been determined that a crime occurred.
"We continue to closely monitor the situation...and stand
ready to assist if needed," said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson.
U.S. security sources said that the only threats or claims
of responsibility related to the presumed crash which have
surfaced thus far have been deemed not credible. The fact that
two passengers were traveling on stolen passports, and other
passengers booked on the flight reportedly failed to turn up, is
not regarded as being evidence of a possible attack, they said.