During a July 2 briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was asked about a book on the MH17 shootdown published in Malaysia by an author identified as M. Ibrahim.
The reporter asked: “We saw a message that a book was published in Malaysia on the plane crash of flight MH17, which belongs to the pen of the famous Malaysian writer M. Ibrahim. His works are even included in the school curriculum. Have you heard anything about this new edition and how can you comment on it?”
Zakharova responded: “The appearance of this book testifies to the increasing desire of the Malaysians to form their own opinion about what happened. We believe that the latter is especially important, given how one-sided and engaged in the West this tragedy has been illuminated for years.”
Zakharova did not say anything more specific about the book, or mention its title, but the Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted about it, citing the author and Zakharova.
The Foreign Ministry tweet is misleading.
The book is titled “Membongkar Misteri Tragedi MH370 & MH17: Angkara Yahudi Dajjal Illuminati,” which roughly translates to “Uncovering the Mystery of the Tragedy of MH370 & MH17: The Evils of the Jewish Antichrist Illuminati.”
The author, Syed Mahadzir Syed Ibrahim, has published several books promoting conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, an alleged secret society that is often purported to control the world from behind the scenes. The name derives from the Bavarian Illuminati, a historical secret society formed in 1776 which opposed government interference in religion and other abuses of state power. Rather than achieve world domination, however, the real Illuminati was all but defunct by the end of the 18th century.
The latest work appears to connect the fate of MH17 to that of MH370, another Boeing 777 airliner, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. Why the plane vanished hasn’t been definitively determined. Only pieces of debris were recovered, allowing conspiracy theories to flourish.
They extended further when Malaysian airliner MH17 was shot down over Ukraine nearly four months later. Some pro-Moscow blogs and media outlets latched on to a theory connecting the disasters – and distracting attention away from potential Russian culpability, as investigator now allege in an ongoing criminal trial in the Netherlands.
A day after the MH17 crash, the nominal leader of Russia’s paramilitary forces in Ukraine, Igor Girkin, hinted at a connection between the two airliners. He told a Russian media outlet that bodies in the wreckage of MH17 appeared to have been drained of blood and may have been “dead for days.”
The Kremlin later embraced other explanations of the MH17 crash, nearly all of which have been debunked. At the time of the crash, Russian proxy forces in Ukraine had downed several Ukrainian military aircraft and bragged about possessing a Buk surface-to-air missile system, the same one that was later found to have shot down the airliner.
Russian state media have more than once promoted the views of Malaysians who oppose the international community’s findings on the MH17 disaster. The skeptics include former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has staunchly defended Russia in the MH17 case. In 2019, he claimed the West blamed Russia from the start without evidence, and that Malaysians were “excluded” from investigating the disaster.
At the time, Malaysian Prosecutor Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria, a member of the MH17 Joint Investigative Team, refuted Prime Minister Mohamad’s claims and said Malaysia supported the JIT’s conclusions. The JIT, formed to conduct a criminal probe, includes authorities from Ukraine, Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium.
Three Russian citizens and one Ukrainian citizen (believed to be in Russia) are now on trial in absentia for the July 17, 2014 crash of MH17 and the death of its 298 passengers and crew. Forensic and eyewitness evidence determined that a Buk M1 surface-to-air missile system downed the airliner. Only one of the defendants, Russian citizen Oleg Pulatov, has retained a lawyer for defense.
According to a January report by the independent news portal Free Malaysia Today, the conspiracy book argues that both MH370 and MH17 were deliberately downed by the “Illuminati.” Syed Mahadzir Syed Ibrahim is described as a “best-selling conspiracy writer.” The Free Malaysia Today story quotes a relative of one MH370 victim denouncing the book as “fiction.”
According to a tweet by Aric Toler, a researcher at the news site Bellingcat, another title by the same author blames an “international Jewish conspiracy” in the killing of U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.