It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller, but one security expert believes that ransom could be the motive behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Rick Mathews, of the National Center for Security & Preparedness at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy of SUNY Albany believes that the plane could be being held in some isolated location while a group of individuals hold the airliner for ransom.
“You want to most likely hide the plane so that it will not be seen and get these people away from there. You want a place to prove life, confirm the fact that they are alive without giving away their location,” Mathews told CBSDC.
He also said that it was likely an inside job, with one or more of the crew behind the disappearance.
The group would have been well prepared, and had an air strip and camouflage ready so as not to be caught by radars and satellite imagery.
“It takes a great deal of coordination to hide a plane,” he said.
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He also said that if the plane had crashed that it would have shown up somewhere by now. It helped fuel his belief that the plane was taken deliberately.
“The individuals who hijacked this plane had to have knowledge of how to disable certain things to make the plane appear to be normal and fly it relatively undetected,” Mathews noted. “Nobody in real time noticed that this was an issue here.”
Mattthews said that he expected the mysterious group of people to come forward "any time now", with the full glare of government agencies and international media on the missing plane.
“If they are ransoming, they want to get away with this,” Mathews explained. “They are not doing this as a suicidal play, they want to make use of this. They want to make sure they have a place for themselves.”
Malaysia has been criticised for not responding quickly to radar indications that the plane veered north and west, losing valuable time in tracking it.
Malaysia has sought help including radar and satellite analysis, and surveillance vessels and aircraft, from 26 countries.
The two huge search corridors -- based on satellite data that detected the plane more than seven hours after it took off -- include one running south in an arc across the Indian Ocean, and another stretching from northern Thailand into South and Central Asia.
But many of the countries involved are not used to such close cooperation -- especially when it comes to sharing possibly sensitive data.
Paul Yap, an aviation lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, said Malaysia faced a giant challenge coordinating the search and getting partners to share sensitive data that could divulge a country's radar capabilities.
"I wouldn't like to be in Malaysia's shoes," Yap said.