A secret rendezvous with a secret agent on an idyllic island, hints of a covert plot against North Korea, a brazen Cold War-style assassination by a dictator with chemical and nuclear weapons at his disposal – all the makings of a spy thriller, except that this is the Kim Jong-nam murder case.
- Meeting with American spy in Langkawi
- Suspected vital intelligence in USB memory stick
- Possibly silenced for US-backed plot to overthrow dictator
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported recently that Kim Jong-nam purportedly met a suspected American spy in Langkawi just four days before he was poisoned. Malaysian investigation authorities are considering this as one of the possible reasons behind his murder.
Citing “investigative authorities and acquaintances” of Jong-nam, the report said he arrived alone in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 6 from Macau.
On Feb 9, he stayed at a Langkawi hotel, where CCTV footage captured him meeting a middle-aged Korean-American based in Bangkok. They parted two hours later.
According to the Asahi Shimbun report, Malaysian investigators had been tailing the American every time he entered Malaysia, suspecting that he had links with a US intelligence agency.
The suspected secret agent had entered Malaysia on the same day that Jong-nam had arrived in the country. Apparently, the two had met in Malaysia several times in the past and now investigators think the link may indicate North Korea’s true motive.
The report said an analysis of Jong-nam’s notebook computer showed that a USB memory stick had been inserted into it, leading to suspicion that he might have offloaded a large volume of crucial information to the intelligence agent.
The report includes a photo that purports to show the two meeting, though the suspected agent’s face is cropped out.
Jong-nam returned to Kuala Lumpur on the evening of Feb 12 and was killed the following day at the concourse of KLIA. The US citizen also left Malaysia the same day.
The daring Cold War-style assassination used a lethal nerve agent banned by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction. Kim Jong-un is believed to have a large stockpile of the poison among a terrifying arsenal of up to 5000-tonnes of chemical weapons.
The report said that investigators suspected that North Korea’s secret police had gotten wind of Jong-nam’s activities and decided to silence him.
The murder made world news and resulted in tension and a brief diplomatic row between Putrajaya and Pyongyang.
South Korea has pinned the blame for Jong-nam’s death on the Pyongyang regime that had previously tried to kill him. The North, however, rejected those claims and criticised Malaysia’s investigation as an attempt to smear the secretive regime, insisting that Jong-nam most likely died of a heart attack.
The identity of Jong-nam was confirmed by DNA testing in March after a sample was attained from one of his children. Kim Han-sol, his son, had released a video revealing that the family were holed up in an undisclosed location for their safety.
Two women – Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, were arrested and charged with the murder. They said they thought they were pranking the victim for a reality-TV show. But investigators said they were trained and knew what they were doing. They could be hanged if found guilty.
Jong-nam had been living in exile in the Chinese territory of Macau with his family for more than a decade. He had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic control of the isolated North Korea.
Many suspected he was being groomed by Beijing to oust Jong-un, whose recent ballistic missile demonstrations have caused global concern.
Did Kim Jong-un order a hit on his estranged half-brother in fear of him being part of a clandestine US-backed coup?
Mar 4, North Korean Double Trouble