Counter terrorism expert Ed Bridgeman sees markings of a terrorist attack in missing Malaysian jet

CINCINNATI -- The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 carries the markings of a terrorist attack, according to local counter terrorism expert Ed Bridgeman.

Ed Bridgeman, an associate professor and head of the criminal justice program at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College, in an interview with WCPO 9 On Your Side anchor Julie O’Neill said in so catastrophic an event “some sort of criminal activity and certainly terrorism came to mind very quickly for me.”

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Below see what Bridgeman had to say about who might be behind the mysterious disappearance Friday of the jetliner over the South China Sea off Vietnam.

Q: Who could it be and why?

A: My first thought was the Uighur group.  It’s a Chinese ethnic and religious minority that has ongoing beefs with both China and Malaysia.

Q: Why do they have beefs with both China and Malaysia?

A: Well the Chinese have systematically oppressed the Uighurs because of their ethnic and religious differences.  They’re Muslims and they have a conflict with the Chinese communists and many of the Uighurs that have left China to go into exile one place or another have ended up in Malaysia and the Mala’s have returned, many of them to China.

Q: So they have problems with both China and Malaysia.

A: Yes.

Q: And they also have links to Al Qaida?

A: Yes they do.  Many of the Uighurs trained with Al Qaida groups early on and Al Qaida is not as active in Southeast Asia as they used to be but many Uighurs trained with them, actually fought in Iraq and we had some Uighurs down in Guantanamo Bay for a while.

Q: We also had the situation of the train station attack. More than two dozen people killed, a couple hundred injured and no one has taken credit for that attack which tells you that that could be the Uighurs as well. Correct?

A: Yes. In addition there was the incident of some of the Uighurs in a car that plowed through a crowd intentionally at Tiananmen Square in China. So there’s a number of incidents especially over the last two years where the Uighurs have systematically rebelled against – with violent acts – against the Chinese government.

Q: And if there is terrorism involved here, why would a terrorist group not take credit for this?

A: There are a number of reasons why they might not.  They may be waiting for the impact of the incident … to see what kind of reaction. If there is revulsion to the action, they may not want to take credit for it like some of the right wing paramilitary didn’t want to take credit for the Murrow Federal Building bombing when they found out there was a nursery school in there. The other reason might be psychological … that they like to kind of come at you out of the sun, out of the shadows and make you think this could be them, could not be them, could be somebody else who’s acting on their behalf and just waiting for the impact to ripple through the media. We’re talking about them now so that’s to their advantage.

Q: So they would cause more turmoil to the psyche by being more mysterious?

A: Absolutely. That’s one of the things that the terrorist groups really enjoy doing is seeming to be something operating in the shadows, operating outside of the bounds of anyone’s purview.

Q: So you’re pretty sure at this point that we have terrorism here?

A: I can’t think of anything it could other be. As I say the technical people have said it doesn’t look like a mechanical (problem), doesn’t look like pilot error or we would’ve heard about it. They would’ve had time to do something about it. But I can’t think of anything else aside from some sort of criminal act.

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