Report Claims Kim Jong-nam Killed for Having Contact with US Intelligence Agency

There were reports out there that Kim Jong-nam was running short on cash in Macau so a US intelligence agency trying to take advantage of this seems possible.  It also seems very possible that this would give Kim Jong-nam the excuse he needed to take out his brother as well:

KIM Jong Nam’s alleged ties with a US intelligence agency contact may have been the reason behind his spy novel-like assassination, Malaysian authorities said.

According to Japanese daily The Asahi Shimbun, Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was carrying US$120,000 when he was killed in February at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) and is believed to have received the money from the contact.

Malaysian investigators said Jong Nam had met with an American man who is believed to have links with a US intelligence agency during his eight-day trip in the Southeast Asian country. This, they said, may have prompted North Korea to silence Jong Nam.

Quoting unnamed sources, The Asahi Shimbun report said Jong Nam received the money during his time in Malaysia and had not planned to declare the cash when leaving the country. The authorities also said there were no records of Jong Nam making any large cash withdrawals from Malaysia.

A check of Jong Nam’s belongings, however, revealed wads of cash – all in US currency and in four bundles of US$100 bills – in his black carry-on bag,  [Asian Correspondent]

You can read more at the link.

Malaysia Cuts Deal to Return Body of Kim Jong-nam to North Korea

Even in death Kim Jong-nam could not escape North Korea:

Malaysia put the body of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a plane to Pyongyang on Thursday, in a deal that secured the release of its citizens there and ended a drawnout diplomatic spat.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence sources say North Korea masterminded the deadly attack on Kim Jong Nam last month using VX nerve agent, a chemical so toxic that it is on a U.N. list of weapons of mass destruction.

The attack outraged Malaysia and sparked a diplomatic row with North Korea, resulting in travel bans on both sides and a collapse in their long-standing friendly ties.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the nine Malaysians barred from leaving North Korea had been allowed to board a plane out, adding on Twitter that they were expected to reach Kuala Lumpur at 5 a.m. local time on Friday (2100 GMT Thursday).

The Malaysians left Pyongyang in a Royal Malaysian Air Force business jet, which headed immediately west out of North Korean airspace before turning south toward Malaysia, according to flight tracking website planefinder.net.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link, but it appears the hostage taking of the Malaysian diplomatic personnel in Pyongyang worked.

Malaysia Cancels Visa Waiver Program with North Korea and Releases Murder Suspect

Considering North Korea’s long criminal history it makes you wonder why the Malaysian government had a visa waiver program with North Korea in the first place?:

North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia has canceled its visa waiver arrangement with North Korea amid a diplomatic spat over the assassination of the half brother of the North’s leader, a news report said Thursday.

The cancellation will take effect on March 6, after which North Koreans entering Malaysia will be required to obtain a visa, Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted the country’s deputy prime minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, as saying. He cited national security as the reason.

This marks Malaysia’s first tangible action taken against Pyongyang following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.  [Yonhap]

Here is the other development regarding the Kim Jong-nam murder case:

Malaysia has decided to release and deport Ri Jong-chol, a 47-year-old North Korean suspect, due to a lack of incriminating evidence, AP reported.

Four North Korean suspects are believed to have fled Malaysia on the day of Kim Jong-nam’s death while three others, including Hyon Kwang-song, the second secretary at the North’s embassy in Malaysia, are wanted for questioning.  [Yonhap]

I was curious to why Ri Jong-chol did not flee like the other North Korean agents if he was in fact part of the murder plot.  Considering Malaysian authorities had no evidence to convict him it appears he was not involved.

Kim Jong-nam Assassin Was Once A Contestant on Vietnamese Version of American Idol

As if the murder of Kim Jong-nam could not get any more bizarre, now the VX nerve agent wielding assassin Doan Thi Huong has been identified as an aspiring singer who appeared recently on Vietnam’s version of American Idol:

A woman believed to be Huong appeared on the Vietnamese version of Pop Idol

Doan Thi Huong’s site features pouting party pictures including a snap of her wearing a shirt emblazoned ‘LOL’  similar to the one on the fleeing suspect caught on CCTV.

The photos were released amid claims she once starred on the Vietnamese version of Pop Idol.

The 28-year-old worked at a popular party venue, according to Malaysian police who have arrested her over the murder of Kim Jong Nam at a Malaysian airport .

On a rice farm in northern Vietnam, her family said they had hardly heard from her since she left home a decade ago aged just 18.

“At first we doubted it was her when we saw the picture with the ‘LOL’ shirt,” said stepmother Nguyen Thi Vy .

“But when someone bought a clearer picture here, we knew it was our Huong.

“If she committed the crime, she has to suffer, we can’t do anything… but I think she must have been set up by someone.”

Huong’s brother Doan Van Binh said he knew little about his sister’s life after she left the village.

“I encouraged her to study and earn money so that her future would be good,” he said.

“My family is very sad. We all thought she was in a good place.”

Huong posted to Facebook under the name Ruby Ruby, according to her 18-year-old niece, Dinh Thi Quyen.

The last post on a Facebook page – released by the respected AP news agency – is dated February 11 from Kampong Besut, Malaysia.

“I want to sleep more but by your side,” the post reads above a picture of her, eyes closed and wrapped up in bed.  [The UK Sun]

You can read much more about Huong at the link, but here is what Huong looks like when not covered in make up and wearing a LOL shirt:

A photo released by Malaysian police of Huong in custody

Malaysia Says North Korean Agents Used VX Nerve Agent To Kill Kim Jong-nam

I just don’t see how North Korea does not get put back on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List after this latest news that they used a weapon of mass destruction to kill someone within a busy airport:

A police officer checks his phone inside the forensic department at Kuala Lumpur Hospital in Malaysia Friday. Police announced the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used in the murder of Kim Jong-nam last week at the airport in Kuala Lumpur. [AP/YONHAP]

Malaysian police announced Friday that the poison used to kill Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was VX nerve agent, a type of chemical weapon.

“The chemical substance on the exhibits has been identified as VX nerve agent,” Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar said in a press briefing on Friday. The inspector general added that the chemical was detected from swabs of Kim’s eyes and face, citing a preliminary toxicology test by the Malaysian government’s chemistry department.

The odorless and colorless VX nerve agent is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies VX as “the most potent of all nerve agents.”

The Malaysian authorities said they are investigating how the internationally banned chemical weapon made its way into Malaysia.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but something I am wondering is how did the VX kill Kim Jong-nam, but not the two women who had it on their hands when they attacked him? Have the North Koreans developed a new type of VX agent that only kills when it makes contact with the eyes perhaps?

Finally according to the article it is believed that North Korea has 5,000 tons of sarin and VX nerve agents.  Seeing how effective this agent was with quickly killing Kim Jong-nam can you imagine what an aerial dispersal of this weapon would do if released in Seoul?

North Korea Blames South Korea and THAAD Deployment for Murder of Kim Jong-nam

This likely for domestic consumption within North Korea because with all the evidence piled up against North Korea I don’t think anyone outside the country will believe this claim:

Members of Umno Youth, the United Malays National Organization’s youth wing, protest against the killing of Kim Jong-nam outside the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday. North Korea denied Thursday being involved in the killing, saying a Malaysian investigation into the death of one of its nationals is full of “holes and contradictions.” [AP/YONHAP]

After South Korean “conservative media” published reports that he was “poisoned to death by two women agents of the General Reconnaissance Bureau of North Korea,” the Malaysian police “recklessly made it an established fact,” the KCNA said.

It said Malaysia pushed for an autopsy of the body without any prior agreement with the North and its representatives.

“Moreover, the Malaysian side clamored for a second autopsy without publishing the results of the first autopsy,” the KCNA said, claiming “the unjust acts of the Malaysian side are timed to coincide with the anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket launched by the South Korean authorities.”

It claimed that South Korean authorities have shown “excessive responses” to the case and that they openly discussed the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

“This proves that the South Korean authorities have long expected the case since it worked out a scenario for it,” it said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but you have to love the fact that the THAAD issue is even to blame for the murder of Kim Jong-nam.  What else could possibly be blamed on THAAD?