Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Global Impact: Update--Passengers Traveling on Stolen Passports Likely Deemed Not to be Terrorists

According to The Associated Press, two men traveling with stolen passports on missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner Flight MH370 were Iranians who had bought tickets to Europe and were probably not terrorists, law enforcement said Tuesday (March 11).

Police said both men bought their tickets in Thailand and entered Malaysia together.

No debris from the missing airliner has yet to be found. On Tuesday, baffled authorities expanded their search to the opposite side of Malaysia from where it disappeared more than three days ago with 239 people on board.

COMMENT: INTERPOL determined that the second passenger is a 29-year-old Iranian and released an image of the two boarding a plane at the same time. INTERPOL Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble said the two men traveled to Malaysia on their Iranian passports, then apparently switched to their stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

The 19-year-old man's mother was waiting for him in Frankfurt and had been in contact with police. He said she contacted Malaysian authorities to inform them of her concern when her son didn't get in touch with her.

MH said search and rescue teams have expanded the scope beyond the flight path to the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia's western coast and Indonesia's Sumatra island--the opposite side of Malaysia from its last known location.

The search currently includes nine aircraft and 24 ships from nine countries that have been scouring the Gulf of Thailand on the eastern side of Malaysia. Land areas also are being searched.

China, where two-thirds of the passengers are from, urged Malaysian authorities on Tuesday to "speed up the efforts" to find the airliner.