Mahathir, an Old Hand at Finding Western Conspiracies

It should be no surprise that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accused a Dutch-led international investigating team of scapegoating Russia in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which took the lives of 298 passengers and crew. It isn’t the first time Mahathir has accused western interests of lying about events concerning Malaysia.

The Dutch team earlier this week charged three Russian separatists and a Ukrainian with murder charges for the destruction of the flight, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine during Russian attempts to destabilize the Ukrainian government. The wreckage fell 50 km. from the Ukraine–Russia border near the city of Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine during the Battle of Shakhtarsk, in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

"We are very unhappy, because from the very beginning it was a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing," Mahathir told reporters. "Even before they examine, they already said Russia. And now they said they have proof. It is very difficult for us to accept that."

Mahathir's statement has been met with incredulity. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, whose country sent a team to aid in the probe, contradicted Mahathir, telling local media that her government had full confidence in the “impartiality, independence and professionalism of the Joint Investigation Team, ” which also included representatives from Malaysia. She added that the Australian government was holding Russia responsible under international law.

In May of 2014, then out of power, the prime minister accused the US Central Intelligence Agency on his blog, Chedet, of planting a system in the innards of MH370 to take control of the jetliner, which disappeared into the Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard, veering away from its destination in China.

“Can it not be that the pilot of MH370 lost control of their aircraft after someone directly or remotely activated the equipment for seizure of control of the aircraft?” Mahathir wrote. “Boeing should explain about this so-called anti-terrorism auto-land system.”

Someone, he said, “is hiding something. It is not fair that MAS and Malaysia should take the blame. For some reason the media will not print anything that involves Boeing or the CIA. I hope my readers will read this.”

William Langewiesche, writing in the July 2019 Atlantic Magazine, traced MH370’s path by the minute in a 10,200 word article from Kuala Lumpur to the craft’s death in the depths of the Indian Ocean and concluded that the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had probably committed suicide, first flying the plane above its operational limit to kill the passengers by oxygen deprivation. Langewiesche appears to have found no evidence of any CIA involvement.

Mahathir has often accused the US, and particularly the CIA, of involvement in perfidious doings, including plotting the destruction of the World Trade Towers in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, despite the fact that Osama Bin Laden had publicly taken responsibility for doing so.

In the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, triggered by Thailand’s decision to no longer peg the baht to the US dollar, which caused currency declines to spread across Southeast Asia and subsequent government upheaval, Mahathir said it had been caused by global capitalists including his own bete noir, George Soros.

In 2003, before he stepped down as prime minister, in a speech to the United Malays National Organization, he accused the United States of using the Sept. 11 attack on America, “as an excuse for the Anglo-Saxon Europeans to return to their violent old ways."

He went on to attack Europeans in general of warmongering, indiscriminate attacks on Muslims, greed and sexual deviancy. Europeans, including "those who migrated and set up new nations in America, Australia and New Zealand," wanted "to control the world again," he said.

Despite the nonagenarian premier’s denials, it appears clear that MH17, which left Amsterdam on July 17, 2014, on a flight path over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, was brought down by a missile on its way to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone on board was killed.

Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were charged by Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke, who said international arrest warrants for the four had been issued.

The Dutch investigation appeared to confirm German and US intelligence findings at the time of the crash that a Buk missile that originated from the Russian Federation’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade had been used to bring down the Malaysian Boeing 777-200ER, and that the missile had been transported from Russia on the day of the crash, fired from a field in a rebel-controlled area. Intelligence agents said the launcher had been returned to Russia after it was used to shoot down MH17, apparently in the belief that it was a military aircraft.

Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees with Mahathir, having called the murder charges against Russian suspects groundless.