Web of intrigue in assassination

The woman, who was holding a Vietnamese passport identifying her as Doan Thi Huong, was detained at the airport at 8.20am yesterday before she could board a plane to Vietnam.
PHOTO: Youtube Screengrab

KUALA LUMPUR - A tale of an intricate, well-planned execution is unravelling with the arrest of a 28-year-old woman at KLIA2, the scene of assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The woman, who was holding a Vietnamese passport identifying her as Doan Thi Huong, was detained at the airport at 8.20am yesterday before she could board a plane to Vietnam.

A taxi driver was arrested earlier.

According to reports, the woman, who was captured on CCTV wearing a white T-shirt with the words "LOL" on it, claimed to have been duped into attacking Jong-nam.

She said she thought she was pulling a prank on the man at the time.

Even if she was telling the truth about being lied to, the web of deceit could be far more intricate.

Police are now looking for four men and the other woman assassin.

Read also: Malaysia Airports giving full co-operation in probe

Half-brother of N Korean leader assassinated in Malaysia

  • Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, was surrounded by a heavy police presence as they were charged in a Kuala Lumpur court over the killing.
  • Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, was surrounded by a heavy police presence as they were charged in a Kuala Lumpur court over the killing.
  • Huong, also dressed casually, then heard the charge in Vietnamese.
  • Siti, wearing a red T-shirt, was brought in first to hear the murder charge read out before being taken away.
  • The handcuffed women were both told they faced the death penalty if found guilty.
  • Neither woman was asked to enter a plea and their trial is not expected to begin for several months.
  • Four suspects in the Kim Jong Nam murder: Malaysian Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin (top L), Doan Thi Huong (top R) of Vietnam, North Korean Ri Jong Chol (bottom L) and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia (bottom R).
  • : A still image from a footage broadcast by Chinese state media which they say is believed to show the second woman (wearing yellow top) suspected of involvement in the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam.
  • Mystery woman: A CCTV screen grab showing a woman outside what looked like the airport, was circulated briefly after news broke last night that the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been killed in Malaysia. The picture fits the description of one of the two women believed to be North Korean spies, who had poisoned Kim Jong-nam during a brazen attack at KLIA2.
  • CCTV cameras at KLIA2 have captured a clearer image of a woman believed to be one of the assassins who killed Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
  • The image zooms in on the alleged killer's features, depicting her to be middle-aged and of Asian descent.
  • In the grainy image, she can be seen wearing a top with the word "LOL" in large letters and a blue short skirt, with her right hand over a small sling handbag.
  • North Korea embassy officials leave the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia.
  • Jong-nam, 45, died after he was attacked at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Monday.
  • He is believed to have been attacked by two female agents who splashed his face with a chemical at the airport's departure hall at about 9am on Monday.
  • A statement confirming the death from the Royal Malaysia Police force.
  • Three cars belonging to the North Korean embassy were seen in the compound of the mortuary at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL). At least two of the cars were parked inside the compound while the third was seen parked outside with a police patrol car parked behind it. The cars had diplomatic number plates, one of which was 28-35-DC.
  • Occupants of the cars were at the mortuary where a post-mortem on the body of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was being carried out.
  • North Korean female agents operating in Malaysia have reportedly assassinated the half-brother of the North's leader, Kim Jong-Un - a one-time heir apparent who became a critic of the Stalinist regime.
  • South Korean media said Tuesday that Kim Jong-Nam was killed with poisoned needles at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Officials in Seoul and the Malaysian capital could not confirm his death.
  • Malaysian police said in a statement late Tuesday that a North Korean man, identified as Kim Chol, sought medical assistance at the airport and died on the way to hospital.
  • South Korean media said Jong-Nam had travelled using a fake passport under the name of Kim Chol.
  • If confirmed, it would be the highest-profile death under the Jong-Un regime since the execution of the leader's uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, in December 2013.
  • Jong-Un has been trying to strengthen his grip on power in the face of growing international pressure over his country's nuclear and missile programmes. He has reportedly staged a series of executions. The latest launch of a new intermediate-range missile on Sunday brought UN Security Council condemnation and vows of a strong response from US President Donald Trump.
  • South Korea's national news agency Yonhap quoted a source as saying agents of the North's spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, carried out the assassination on Monday by taking advantage of a security loophole between Jong-Nam's bodyguards and Malaysian police at the airport.
  • Malaysian private security guards stand guard outside the Forensics department at Putrajaya Hospital in Putrajaya on February 14, 2017, where the body of a North Korean man suspected to be Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is believed to be kept.
  • The 45-year-old was killed by two unidentified females wielding poisoned needles at the airport, according to South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun.
  • It said the women hailed a cab and fled immediately afterwards. Jong-Nam, the eldest son of former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favour following an embarrassing botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland. He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.
  • A pedestrian walks in front of a clinic where a North Korean man suspected to be Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is believed had been taken at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on February 14, 2017.
  • His half-brother took over as leader when their father died in December 2011. Jong-Nam, known as an advocate of reform in the North, once told a Japanese newspaper that he opposed his country's dynastic system of power.
  • He was reportedly close to his uncle Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and political mentor of the current leader. Cheong Seong-Jang, senior researcher at Seoul's Sejong Institute think-tank, said Jong-Nam had been living in near-exile so it was unlikely that Jong-Un saw him as a potential competitor for power.
  • Policemen stand outside the morgue at Putrajaya hospital in Malaysia February 15, 2017.
  • In 2014, Jong-Nam was reported to be in Indonesia - sighted at an Italian restaurant in Jakarta - and was said to be shuttling back and forth between Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France.
  • N Korean officials scuffle with media outside the KL hospital.
  • N Korean officials speaking to Malaysian authorities.
  • The Korean restaurant along Tanjong Pagar road where Kim Jong Nam was said to have dined in when he was spotted in Singapore in 2014.

The five had been with the arrested suspect in a hotel in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi not far from the airport but had abandoned her a little later.

She reportedly then decided to head for the airport to take a flight home.

Her story opens up the possibility that the other five had been the real killers who had planned the execution while the arrested woman was the pawn in their plot.

Police believe the five are still in the country and have vowed to hunt them down.

To add to the intrigue, North Korea has objected to the autopsy on Jong-nam's body but Malaysian authorities have gone ahead with the post-mortem.

It has been completed and it is believed that the poison used to kill Jong-nam has been identified.

Among the possible poisons are ricin, a lethal chemical found in the seeds of castor oil plants or tetrodotoxin, which is the killer ingredient in pufferfish.

Read also: Autopsy on murder victim completed

The former is a slow working poison while tetrodotoxin is known to paralyse and kill victims fairly quickly.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the arrested woman had been "detained in connection with the death of a North Korean man at the airport on Monday.

She was identified based on CCTV footage at the airport and she was alone at the time of the arrest".

The woman, whose passport stated that she was from Nam Dinh, Vietnam, is being held at the Selangor police headquarters and police are checking the validity of her nationality.

"We are not ruling out the possibility that more suspects will be picked up in the coming days," he said.

It is learnt the taxi driver has since been released after his statement was recorded.

The arrest of the woman also puts to rest earlier reports that the two assassins had committed suicide.

Read also: Family, rivals brutally wiped out​

"We have caught one suspect and we are hunting the other one," he vowed.

Sources said that upon her arrest, Doan, who led police to the hotel in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, told police that she was convinced by the female friend and four men to play a prank on a man (Kim Jong-nam).

She claimed it was never her intention to kill or even hurt the man as she thought it was just a harmless joke.

It is learnt that Doan came to Malaysia with the five others for a vacation.

However, after the "prank", the woman alleged she was abandoned by her companions.

Among the items seized from the suspect were the T-shirt with the word "LOL" and a light blue Dior handbag.

In the bag was a bottle containing what may be the poison that killed Jong-nam.

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