The youngest son of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah told Malaysian media that he does not believe his father was a political extremist or prone to deliberately crashing a plane.
Speaking to Malaysia’s New Straits Times, 26-year-old Ahmad Seth said that he had been following the story intensely, and he had “read everything online” about how his father was the prime suspect in the plane’s disappearance. Zaharie is a known supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to prison the day before Flight 370 disappeared. “I’ve ignored all the speculation,” Seth told the paper. “I know my father better.”
Zaharie’s ties to the Malaysian opposition were not the only clues that led some to suspect that he orchestrated the plane’s disappearance. Given the lack of any signs of distress and apparently seamless shutdown of the plane’s communications systems, investigators came to some conclusions. One such conclusion was that anyone with the ability to make the plane invisible to civilian radar and fly it in a completely different direction than programmed must have had extensive experience with a Boeing 777. This made both Zaharie and his co-pilot the main suspects.
Investigations also found that Zaharie’s home flight simulator helped him train to land on five different runways in the Indian Ocean, and his commitment to attacking the government on social media was steadfast. He apparently also had an interest in discussions about atheism, and a report by the UK Times suggested Zaharie was “deeply troubled.”
Seth did not expound upon any information in that Times report that was personal to the family, like the claim that Zaharie’s wife had left him the day before the flight. He did admit that he was not especially close to his father. Seth told the paper that he was not as close as they had been in the past, given that Zaharie “travels so much” for work, but he insisted, “I understand him.”
Seth added that he was “not surprised” by Malaysian authorities’ declaration that the plane had crashed and killed everyone on board, but he remained open to the possibility that they had miscalculated. “I will believe it [that there are no survivors] when I see the proof in front of my eyes,” he told New Straits Times. The paper emphasized that Seth was “calm” while speaking about the incident and that he admitted he considered himself the most composed in the family during this difficult time.
Early Friday morning, authorities from Malaysia and Australia announced that the search for Flight 370 would be moving hundreds of miles north, to an area with better weather and a higher likelihood of containing debris from the plane. The new calculation was based on evidence that the plane was flying faster than previously anticipated.