(Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)
Questions regarding Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, continue to arise as the search for the missing plane enters its 14th day on Friday. Journalists scouring through the pilot's social media activity have found he "liked" atheist-themed videos on YouTube.
As investigators searched Shah's home just outside of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, they discovered that he "liked" and subscribed to multiple atheist channels on YouTube. According to The New York Times, out of the dozens of videos Shah "liked" on the platform, four consisted of well-known atheists explaining why they didn't believe in religion. The pilot also subscribed to the official YouTube channel of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and the channel for Eddie Izzard, a British comedian also known to be atheist.
As The Huffington Post points out, although some media outlets have depicted Shah as possibly a Muslim extremist who intentionally crashed MH370 in a suicide mission, the fact that he frequented atheist YouTube channels paints him more as a moderate secularist.
Shah was also reportedly a supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who lost the May 2013 election and was recently jailed for five years on sodomy charges. Although some journalists have suggested Shah's support of Ibrahim is suspicious, others have argued that the Malaysian politician was pro-democracy and has been imprisoned on sodomy charges in a highly-political case.
Malaysian authorities, with the help of the FBI, are now looking through deleted files from Shah's home flight simulator to search for possible clues as to what happened to the mysterious missing MH370 flight. Files containing flight simulation records were reportedly deleted from Shah's flight simulator on Feb. 3.
Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said at a press conference recently that Shah is innocent until proven guilty, and his family is cooperating with the investigation. "I would like to take this opportunity to state that the passengers, the pilots and the crew remain innocent until proven otherwise," Hussein told reporters from a hotel in Sepang on Wednesday.
The Australian government announced this week that images taken from a commercial satellite found a possible field of debris floating in a very remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, 1,500 miles off the southwest coast of Australia. Just before midnight on Thursday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority announced that four planes from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand had covered 14,291 miles in the area and would resume their search Friday morning.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur National Airport just after midnight on Saturday, March 8, heading for Beijing, and lost all contact with air traffic controls somewhere over the Gulf of Thailand. The mysterious disappearance of the flight has fueled questions of intentional sabotage by the pilots, hijacking, mechanical failure, and even meteors.
A recent Google+ post by a former pilot suggests that the plane's cockpit might have filled with smoke, perhaps due to a burning tire, thus causing the pilot to turn the plane left to the nearest airport and turn off all transponders and communication in an attempt to isolate what was causing the fire. The former pilot conjectured the pilots and most likely the passengers and crew passed out or died from smoke inhalation.