Saturday, 18 February 2017

Vietnamese Assassin arrested in connection with the murder of North Korea's Kim Jong Nam Moved Around like an agent

Suspect in Kim Jong Nam's killing had wad of cash, moved hotels, cut her hair

KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA (Reuters) - The woman with the acronym 'LOL' on her shirt who was arrested this week in connection with the murder of North Korea's Kim Jong Nam stayed in cheap hotels, carried a wad of cash and cut her hair a day before the brazen attack at Kuala Lumpur airport.

According to the receptionist at one of the hotels, a woman who had checked in under the Vietnamese name of Doan Thi Huong on Sunday Feb. 12 left early in the morning on Monday, the day of the assassination, and returned later, showing no signs of stress.
Police believe she was the person who, at around 8:20 a.m. that day, had approached the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from behind at the Malaysian capital's budget airline terminal and thrust a deadly poisonous substance into his face.
According to Malaysian media reports, Doan told police she had been duped into what she thought was a harmless practical joke. A second woman who has been detained, an Indonesian national, also thought she was involved in a prank, some media reports said.
However, staff at two hotels in a rundown area near the airport gave details of Doan's movements before the killing that appeared both calm and deliberate.
A private investigator told Reuters her behaviour bore the hallmarks of an intelligence operative.
Doan went first to the two-star Qlassic Hotel, checking in on Saturday, Feb. 11. A staff member who asked not to be named said she stayed in the cheapest room, which had no windows.
"I remember she had wanted to extend her stay here, and was ready to pay with a stack of money in her hand," said another member of the Qlassic's staff, a front-desk employee who only identified herself as Sia.
After one night, Doan checked into the CityView Hotel, arriving with a suitcase, a backpack and a large teddy bear, the receptionist told Reuters, declining to be named. She said Doan spoke understandable English.
She borrowed a pair of scissors from the front desk the evening before the attack, and a member of housekeeping staff found hair on the floor and in the waste basket the next day.
"She found the scissors on the room desk. And there was hair strewn on the floor in the room, (Doan) had thrown some in the bin but there was still a mess," the receptionist said.
She said that the next day Doan had on the shirt she was seen wearing in an airport CCTV grab that has earned her the nickname "LOL Girl" in Malaysian media.
Doan was out for much of the morning and, on her return, she seemed "relaxed" and "didn't look angry or worried".
Doan complained about the Wifi in her room and when she was told it couldn't be fixed until the afternoon, she checked out and left.
She then checked into the SkyStar Hotel, also nearby, and left after one night, an employee said.
It is not known where Doan went next. Police said she was arrested on Wednesday morning, about 48 hours after the murder, in the same terminal where Kim Jong Nam was attacked.
"If you ask me, do her movements indicate that she was an intelligence operative, then I would say yes," said a private investigator in Kuala Lumpur who asked not to be named.
"That is how they operate. Change of appearance, cash transactions, no paper trail and constantly on the move."
The Indonesian woman who was arrested on Thursday, Siti Aishah, had lived a quiet life in a slum district of Jakarta before going to find work in Malaysia, residents in the western neighbourhood of the Indonesian capital said.
According to Malaysian media reports, she stood in front of Kim to distract him while her accomplice approached from behind.
In Jakarta, Aishah had worked for a time in the tailoring business in the house of her ex-husband's family, sewing clothes by hand, former neighbours in the Tambora district said. 
"I can't believe the news. Her background was very simple," said community leader R. Yusri.
The couple moved to Malaysia several years ago but separated in 2012. Aishah's former father-in-law said she had returned to Jakarta on Jan. 28 to visit her seven-year-old son. She had looked thinner than usual and had a cough.
The streets in Tambora district are too narrow for cars to pass through. A tangle of washing lines hangs above small concrete and makeshift homes, many housing small businesses or selling clothes and food.
Ida Anisafitri, a neighbour, said Aishah kept a low profile when she visited there.
"We would see her briefly with the child and then she would go back inside the house," Anisafitri said, as a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque sounded with the call to prayer.


Jong-nam murder: Neighbours describe Siti Aisyah as 'quiet and innocent'

JAKARTA: For those who have met Siti Aisyah, the notion that the 25-year-old woman from Serang, Banten, might have been capable of allegedly taking part in a vicious plot to murder a high-profile figure in a foreign country is hard to swallow.

Siti, who is believed to have been arrested in Malaysia for her alleged role in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been described by her neighbours and relatives as a “quiet and innocent” girl.
Siti once lived in a house located in a small alley in the densely populated quarters of Tambora district, West Jakarta. There she resided with her former husband Gunawan Hasyim and former father-in-law Liang Kiong, known as Akiong.
To her neighbours, Siti is just one of millions of Indonesians looking for job opportunities in neighbouring Malaysia.
“She rarely mingled with others. [But] I’m sure that it is her. I recognise her from the picture and I had seen her often back then,” said one of the neighbours named Anisa Fitri as quoted by Antara news agency. “She is a quiet and innocent person from the region,” she added.
Halimah, another neighbor who has lived in Tambora since 1969, was stunned by the news, saying that “[Siti] is poor; it’s a pity that she has been dragged into the case. She once lived next door to me before she moved [to her then father-in-law’s house],” she said.
The last time Akiong, who runs a home-based clothing business, saw Siti was on Jan 28 during Chinese New Year, when she stopped by from Serang before she went to Malaysia.
“It is impossible [for her to be involved in the murder case]. I know her; she holds Javanese traditional values and was a nice daughter-in-law and wife,” Akiong said.
According to Akiong, Siti is just a junior high school graduate who speaks poor English and once worked in Batam as a clothing vendor. Akiong could not recall when his son married Siti, although he remembered when the two divorced in 2012 following a request from Siti, who, according to Akiong, considered his son to not be a good husband.
Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities have been struggling to attain more information about Siti, including on whether she is really the woman arrested by Malaysian authorities along with a Vietnamese woman and a Malaysian man, who is said to be Siti’s boyfriend.
As of Friday afternoon, the Directorate General of Immigration was still waiting for formal validation of Siti’s passport by the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, immigration spokesperson Agung Sampurno told The Jakarta Post. Although formal validation is pending, the passport shows her last exit from Indonesia was to Johor Baru through Batam, on the morning of Feb 2.
The National Police, through their representative at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, have also been trying to meet with Siti.
“We want to confirm identification because it is still possible that she is not Indonesian. If she is indeed Indonesian, we need to know her movements in Jakarta,” National Police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said.
Officials in Jakarta have said Indonesia will not meddle with Malaysia’s investigation into Siti, but Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir ensures Siti “is getting legal assistance from the embassy”.
Fachir claimed he had yet to receive information that Siti was a North Korean spy.
The Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) said Siti’s name was not on the list of Indonesian migrant workers living in Malaysia, however many Indonesians work in Malaysia illegally.
It is unclear whether Siti is a foreign agent, but many Indonesians, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, seem to believe that, like many Indonesian migrant workers, she has been framed and therefore is a victim in the case. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network


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