The two passengers who boarded now-missing Malaysia Air flight 370 using stolen passports have been identified as Iranian nationals, reports The Malaysian Insider and BBC’s Persian service. This comes in the wake of reports yesterday that the passport users ‘had asian features,‘ which sparked much online rumor-mongering about the potential involvement of Chinese separatists.
The passengers used stolen Austrian and Italian passports when boarding flight MH370, both of which were listed on Interpol’s stolen passport database but not checked by authorities in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. As of last night, Malaysian authorities had confirmed the identity of one of the men, but had not released any identifying information other than the fact that “The man is not from XinJiang China.”
According to The Malaysian Insider, the BBC’s Persian service located an Iranian friend of the passport holders in Kuala Lumpur who had hosted the two men while they waited for their flight to Europe via Beijing. The friend, “claimed that the men had bought the fake passports as they wanted to migrate to Europe,” and had no terrorist goals.
Today Online goes on to say:
Travel agent Benjaporn Krutnait, booked the tickets through a business contact whom she only knew as “Mr Ali”. She said that his first request to book cheap tickets to Europe for the two men was made on March 1. […]
“Mr Ali” had asked for the cheapest route to Europe for his clients and did not mention the specific booking Kuala Lumpur-Beijing, which she claims is unlikely behaviour by would-be terrorists.
“There is no evidence to suggest an act of terror,” said a European security source, who added that there was also “no explanation what’s happened to it or where it [flight MH370] is”.
If we have learned anything from the MH370 saga so far, it must be to distrust first reports of information (and that many people travel on stolen passports, and that there are many, many oil slicks and miscellaneous flotsam between Malaysia and Vietnam). We will post further updates as they develop.