KUALA LUMPUR: A frame-by-frame analysis of the video footage captured by klia2’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the minutes before and after the attack on Kim Jong-nam on the morning of Feb 13 have unearthed startling new revelations.
The seven wanted North Koreans — masterminds behind the assassination of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — had technically “surrounded” their target to ensure that the mission to liquidate him was followed through.
This damning analysis of CCTV footage, sourced from the public domain, has also revealed the possible involvement of another North Korean — possibly the ninth suspect.
The New Straits Times’ Special Probes Team learnt that this man is believed to be one Chang Nam-un, who is in his mid-30s. He is believed to have played a significant role in the murder plot.
He entered the frame as soon as Jong-nam began making his way to the self check-in counter, where the latter was eventually attacked by two women, who have since been charged with his murder.
An expert suggested that Nam-un was among the suspects tasked with making sure that this do-or-die mission was a success.
After the attack, as one of the assailants was making her getaway, she passed him, but not before raising her right hand. The expert believes that this was to indicate that “the job was done”.
Another clip later showed him turning to walk in the opposite direction almost immediately, and his path soon crossed that of the other alleged assassin.
From the angles of their faces and the pause in his steps, the expert said it was plausible that signals were also exchanged.
The team was later alerted to the fact that Japanese intelligence in Bangkok had identified him as the fifth suspect who had fled Malaysia a few hours after the attack that day. This piece of information is believed to have been channelled to Kuala Lumpur.
The Special Probes Team made another chilling discovery, which it shared with an expert, who also saw the damning links, to the whole plot.
There was a man who was standing within earshot of Jong-nam as he stood at the information counter seeking help, telling the airport’s personnel that his face stung after someone rubbed it with a form of liquid. The deadly substance has since been identified as the deadly nerve agent, VX.
From that point, this man, who had a trolley bag with him, was always a few steps behind Jong-nam as the latter made his way to the clinic. He would have seen the effects of the deadly chemical taking hold, as Jong-nam, who earlier was walking steadily, was already beginning to drag his feet.
As he walked past the clinic, he turned to look at an increasingly frantic Jong-nam.
He stationed himself close to the exit with his back to the clinic, and as the medical officer was preparing to wheel Jong-nam on a stretcher out to the waiting ambulance, the man turned to Jong-nam’s way several times.
The North Korean suspects identified with their respective roles seemed to eliminate the presence of James @ Ri Ji-u, 30.
If the man who tailed Jong-nam wasn’t James, investigators could be looking at the involvement of yet another suspect.
Police on Feb 19, said they had identified four North Korean suspects in klia2 that day who fled soon after the attack, as well as three others, including James.
The four were identified Ri Ji -hyon, Hong Song-hac, Ri Jae-nam and O Jong-gil.
It has also emerged that Jong-gil fled the country with the man who could be the ninth suspect via klia2. Their escape route to Pyongyang took them through Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Moscow. It is learnt that the five reached North Korea on Feb 17.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, when contacted, said the police were looking into the possibility of more suspects.
The two foreign female suspects
The two female suspects, who have since been charged with his murder, have maintained that they thought it was a prank. Both were captured on CCTV sneaking up on Jong-nam and swiping his face with a deadly concoction.
Experts believe that one had in her bare hands, a non-deadly precursor chemical, while the other, sulphur. Both had allegedly taken part in rehearsals at two shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, including at the fountain area of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
As one of the suspects took her escape route from behind the information counter, she made eye contact with another North Korean man — believed to be Nam-un, who is possibly the ninth suspect, although police have not yet identified him as one.