Officials: Radar Tracked Surface-to-Air Missile at Time of Malaysia Air Crash

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by WCCB Charlotte

 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Terror in the sky.  A Malaysia airliner crashes in Ukraine, shot down by a missile. 

We have learned that there were a total of 298 people on Malaysia Air Flight MH-17 when it was shot down over Ukraine Thursday morning, including three infants.  So far, there are no American victims, but we still don't know the nationality of 41 people who were on MH-17.

A senior US official says radar tracked a surface-to-air missile at the time of the crash.  A second system saw a heat signature.  President Obama has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the crash.  There's no word what they discussed.  Putin denies Russia played a part.  He blames Ukraine's military campaign against Russian separatists.

As the investigation into who is behind the surface-to-air missile attack is underway, one local terrorism expert says what happened Thursday sets a terrible precedent within the Ukraine/Russia conflict.

"Somebody in the conflict has demonstrated a willingness to attack civilians and non-combatants.  I think that should be a concern to everyone in the world.  America, Ukraine, Russia.  It's a terrible precedent," said UNC Charlotte Assistant Professor of Political Science and Terrorism Expert Justin Conrad.

Russian news outlets are reporting that Russian separatists retrieved the black box from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and will likely turn it over to a Russian government agency for inspection.  Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker tells WCCB Charlotte that if that is the case, not to expect any credible information from that inspection report.

"I think the most credible source of what happened will be the intelligence community, which clearly has been monitoring that part of the world very closely.  Not just us, but other intelligence services," said Swecker.

Swecker predicts there could be criminal indictments, even war crime charges, for the people behind Thursday's attack.

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