A school colleague of the captain of the missing Malaysian plane, Jalil Saad has rubbished claims that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 inside the Indian Ocean.
Saad, who was two years ahead of Zaharie at the Penang Free School in northern Malaysia, described the pilot as ‘well liked’ and ‘a book worm’ who did not deserve accusations of terrorism in the wake of the disappearance of the plane he piloted.
According to him, as a schoolboy, the captain of Flight MH370 was enigmatic, a bit of a mystery and regarded as a very bright young man.
‘He was always on the ball and spent most of his time in the library.’
Zaharie had enrolled in the school, the oldest independent college in South East Asia, after passing the qualifying exam in 1978.
Zaharie was ‘studious,’ he said.
* Captain Zaharie and his family
Jalil Saad said all the school’s ‘old boys’ were regarded ‘as brothers’ and had remained in touch with each other.
The Penang Free School’s senior administration assistant Ho Nean Chan also said he and Zaharie had studied science alongside each other, and that ‘he was a smart student.’
Following the MH370 incident, the Penang Free School has held prayer meetings.
‘We join the nation in grieving for the loss of all on board the jet liner,’ Ho Nean Chan said.
Malaysian Airlines captain Abdul Manaf Hasan also told newsmen that though he did not know Captain Zaharie’s ‘personal situation’ but that he had been ‘impeccable’ and the missing pilot’s fellow flight captains were dismayed by reports speculating about his potential as a terrorist or suicide bomber.
‘None of us believe he has done it,’ Capt Manaf said. ‘I stand by my friend.’
* Zaharie’s son, Ahmad Seth Zaharie with his sister Aishah Zaharie, left, and their mother, Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan
Ahmad Seth, Shah’s youngest son, also came out in support of his father this week, saying he has ‘ignored all the speculation’ around his 53-year-old father since the plane mysteriously disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur 19 days ago.
The 26-year-old said the family has yet to accept the official ruling that all 239 people on board are dead, insisting they will wait for physical evidence, as searches were suspended when heavy rain, winds and low clouds forced aircraft to return to base.
‘I’ve read everything online. But I’ve ignored all the speculation,’ he told an online publication.
It comes amid reports that investigators now believe Captain Zaharie is solely responsible for the Malaysian Airline jet’s demise and have dismissed the likelihood of mechanical failure or a hijacking.
A friend of the pilot has revealed Captain Zaharie was in ‘no state of mind to be flying’ and had been left distraught by his wife’s decision to move out of the family home.
* Zaharie’s schoolmate, Jalil Saad says his friend is a good man and can’t intentionally crash a plane
‘He’s one of the finest pilots around and I’m no medical expert, but with all that was happening in his life Zaharie was probably in no state of mind to be flying,’ he told the NZ Herald on the condition of anonymity.
He said his friend’s relationships were breaking down, adding it was possible Captain Zaharie took MH370 for a ‘last joyride’ in which he tried high-risk maneuvers he had perfected on his beloved home-made flight simulator.