Conspiracy theories are running rampant as the mystery of what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 deepens, but it remains highly unlikely the Boeing 777 was landed in a remote location, says Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation.
A plane as large as the Boeing would require an airstrip that would be very hard to hide from satellites, Brookes, a senior fellow for National Security Affairs at Heritage, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" Monday on Newsmax TV.
"You need something that's probably got a mile worth of airstrip, so that's really, really difficult to figure out where that potentially might be," Brookes said. "You have to be able to get this into an airstrip beyond somebody's radar, a long finished airfield, so there are real challenges — not ruling it out — but there are real challenges."
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Brookes said the number of "bad actors" in the region where the plane could have flown — including al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Iran, and the East Turkistan Islamic movement, a Chinese separatist group responsible for the recent stabbings in Kunming — did raise concerns. Any of those groups or others could be interested in a prisoner ransom, but the logistics of executing such a plan, even after the unlikely plane landing, would be complex.
"That's a possibility and I can't rule it out," Brookes said. "I mean there have been some amazing sort of criminal acts over the years, but once again, you need a place to land the planes, you're going to have to have a support function for the people because they're no good if they're not alive. You need to have water and food ... maybe medical care. It's very, very complicated ..."
Plenty of questions have been raised about China's regional involvement. Brookes mentioned the East Turkistan Islamic movement in Western China, attached to a recent major stabbing attack, but said that group has never executed an attack as sophisticated as hijacking an airplane. And, Brookes continued, a theory that China shot the plane down when it breached Chinese airspace was also unlikely.
"The Chinese, they're not as capable as you might think in that respect," Brookes said. "If it went into China, it's a possibility, but any responsible air force would try to force the plane down before they would bring it down."
Brookes said the so-called "human element" had to be considered, including a possible pilot suicide.
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