Interpol Identifies Iranians Using Stolen Passports on Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

passportInterpol has identified the two Iranians who used stolen Austrian and Italian passports to board Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared off air traffic control (ATC) radar in Southeast Asia on March 8. The two apparently boarded at the same time.

Neither the plane nor any wreckage has been found as yet, while, at the same time, the area being searched has pushed westward.

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Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble said March 11 the two traveled to Malaysia on Iranian passports, then apparently switched to the stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

He also said recent information that's been learned about the men made terrorism a less likely cause of the plane's disappearance, but that did not allay concerns about the ease of travel involving stolen passports.

Citing national authorities, Interpol named the two as Seyed Mohammed Reza Delavar, 29, and Pouria Nourmohammadi, 18. However, Malaysian authorities say Nourmohammadi is 19.

“It was thanks to the thorough and swift response by Interpol's National Central Bureau in Tehran that these two men have been identified,” said Noble.  “NCB Tehran has also confirmed that neither of the men had a criminal record and both left Iran legally, and we are now calling on the public’s assistance in providing additional information about their movements,” he added.

“As we work to identify any criminal network which may have facilitated the theft of the passports used by these individuals to travel internationally, it remains of serious concern to Interpol that approximately four out of every 10 international passengers are not being screened against our Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database and this should be a worry for us all,” added Noble.

“If countries are not carrying out full screening of international passengers against INTERPOL's databases, then we must look to work with private industry in addressing this security gap,” he said.

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Noble announced during a press conference at the General Secretariat headquarters that Qatar Airways and Air Arabia will pilot Interpol's I-Checkit initiative. That program will allow private sector partners in the travel, hotel and banking industries to screen documents against the SLTD database when people book a plane ticket, check into a hotel or open a bank account.

Interpol is the world's largest police organization, with 190 participating member countries.