THE missing Malaysian airliner was hijacked for a terror attack on British territory, it was claimed last night.
Fears grew that the Boeing 777 flew towards a secretive US airbase leased from Britain on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
Hijackers may have planned to slam the Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 passengers and crew into the base in a 9/11 style attack.
The chilling new theory emerged after a satellite spotted pieces of wreckage, one 78ft long, floating 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Western Australia.
Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority boss John Young said surveillance planes were searching for the debris.
Last night an international fleet of boats, including British survey ship HMS Echo, was sailing there.
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein hailed the wreckage discovery, which came 13 days after the plane disappeared, as “credible”.
The suspected crash site is in the opposite direction of the plane’s intended destination of Beijing, China, leaving investigators in little doubt that it deliberately veered off course.
ntelligence sources say the evidence is now pointing to it being hijacked perhaps by Islamic extremists. The possible crash site is around 2,000 miles off Diego Garcia, which is part of Britain’s Indian Ocean territory.
But any hijacker could have easily flown off course before running out of fuel.
Another theory is that passengers may have rebelled against the hijackers after realising their deadly final destination and altered the flight path.
Diego Garcia’s US airbase houses 1,400 workers and was used as a CIA “black site” to hold captured Islamic terror suspects.
The remote island is also said to have been used for “extraordinary rendition” flights, in which terrorist figures were transported around the world.
Internet conspiracy theorists backed claims that a hijacker may have been trying to fly there.
One wrote: “I have been saying look at Diego Garcia all along. I believe we might now be skating dangerously close to the truth to where the plane was going.”
And another hit back at sceptics, insisting: “What else is out there? The only target could be Diego.”
Last night there was also speculation the plane may have flown in a straight line directly south after some sort of catastrophe on board like a rapid decompression.
Robert Mark, editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, said an on-board emergency may have knocked out the crew, leaving it to fly on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.
He said: “A mechanical fault or emergency seems plausible.”