A renewed version of the conspiracy theory that the missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 was shot by US military has gained much traction this week.
A former airline boss has reinforced the theory that had gone viral days after the ill-fated Boeing 777 vanished into thin air in the wee hours of 8 March prompting an international search effort, which has so far failed to even confirm what exactly happened to the aircraft.
Marc Dugain, the former chief executive of now defunct Proteus Airlines, has said that the US military feared that the aircraft was heading for another 9/11-style attack after being possibly taken over by hackers. The jumbo jet was thus shot down near a US military base on the remote island of Diego Garcia in the India Ocean, the airline boss said.
In a six-page article published by French weekly Paris Match, Dugain said that the aircraft may have gotten into trouble as it was approaching the US military base.
"It's an extremely powerful military base. It's surprising that the Americans have lost all trace of this aircraft. Without getting into conspiracy theories, it is a possibility that the Americans stopped this plane," Dugain said, English-language website The Local reported on Friday.
Dugain further said there were witness in the Maldives, the nearest islands to Diego Garcia located about 500 kilometres to the north, who claimed that they saw "huge plane flying at a really low altitude" with Malaysian Airlines colours. The witnesses had indeed indicated at that time that the plane was flying towards the US military base in Diego Garcia.
However, the Frenchman is not the first person to propagate such a conspiracy theory. Similar claim made by John Chuckman, a former oil company executive turned author had suggested America could have shot down MH370 and was trying to cover it up.
"Could it be that the United States shot down Flight MH370, either accidentally or deliberately, and now wants to keep it secret?" Chuckman wrote in Opednews.com, in April, more than a month after the aircraft disappeared.
"The possibility of recovery of the full wreckage, even if its location were found, from 4 miles under the sea amongst underwater mountains is extremely remote at best, so the United States can remain confident that physical evidence will never emerge.
"There would be nothing unprecedented in such an act: on at least 3 occasions, regrettably, America's military has shot down civilian airliners, only admitting eventually to the one they could not hide."
In the latest claim the French airlines chief, who is also a successful novelist, also told a radio station that he was warned not to investigate any further in MH370 by an intelligence source who reportedly said it involved "risks". The source also advised him to "let time do its work", an indication that the intelligence was possibly trying to avert a disclosure that could have brought the name of the United States into disrepute.
It is still unknown why flight MH370 suddenly turned off its communications, changed its course dramatically and flew low. And there is a general consensus that it is extremely unlikely that America's military intelligence would have really missed the plane. This is especially because the new path of the plane appeared to be possibly targeting Diego Garcia as the destination, the place which is kept top secret.
MH370 mysteriously vanished midair from the civilian radar while flying between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing on 8 March with 239 people onboard.