Difficult to identify aircraft in hostile airspace, says jihadist

Difficult to identify aircraft in hostile airspace, says jihadist

PETALING JAYA - It is difficult for militant groups to determine if an aircraft flying over hostile airspace is of a civilian or military nature.

Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim, one of the Malaysian jihadists fighting in Syria, said civilians were at great risk as militant groups did not possess the radar equipment and technology to ascertain if an air target was 'friend or foe'.

"In Syria airspace for instance, commercial flights are allowed passage through the airspace even though the country is at war.

"Sometimes, there is a misunderstanding between us, thinking that it is one of the enemy's aircrafts, only to discover that it is actually a civilian plane," he posted to his Facebook page following the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crash in Ukraine on Thursday night.

Referring to the fate of MH17, which is said to have been shot down from the sky, Ahmad Salman said the warring parties could then point fingers at each other if "unwanted incidents" occurred.

"This is a reality that poses a great risk to the safety of civilians. Is there no alternative route for civilian airplanes to take?" he wrote.

Ahmad Salman also expressed his shock at the incident and conveyed his group's condolences to the loved ones of the passengers and crew onboard the flight.

"This is an important lesson for us to learn from," he added.

MH17, en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, departed at 12.15pm local time and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10am Malaysian time the next day.

The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard.

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