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Passengers on Missing Flight With Stolen Passports Likely Not Linked to Terrorism

Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza
Malaysian Airlines flight 370 passengers Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad (left) and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza. (How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)

Two passengers on the still-missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared over water between Malaysia and Vietnam, who got onboard using stolen passports are unlikely to be linked to terrorism, according to police.

The two men, Iranians named Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, do not appear to have any terrorist connections. “The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident,” said Ronald Noble, secretary general of the international police agency Interpol.

Mehrdad was apparently on his way to Frankfurt, Germany, where his mother was awaiting him. She called Malaysian police when Mehrdad did not arrive as expected, according to Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general of the Malaysian police. “We are in contact with his mother,” he said.

The news significantly lessens the likelihood of terrorism being the cause of the plane’s disappearance, though, again, it is worth mentioning that no one knows why the plane went missing. All the leads authorities have uncovered so far have led to nothing—there still has been no wreckage found, nor any clues about exactly when and where the aircraft vanished. Two hundred thirty-nine people were onboard the flight.

That the pilots did not make a distress call could mean that whatever happened onboard happened virtually instantaneously, meaning that an explosion may be the cause. But whether that explosion was from some kind of bomb in the plane or something more prosaic like engine failure remains unknown.

Aviation specialist Clive Irving wrote in the Daily Beast that the information we have available now makes him think that the plane’s troubles, whatever they were, happened very fast:

Whatever happened was instantaneous. There was no distress call from the pilots, and no previous hint of a technical problem.

This leaves five possible scenarios:

1.     Bomb in the cabin.

2.     Bomb in the cargo.

3.     Accidental explosion in the cargo hold.

4.     Explosion in one of the engines.

5.     “Explosive decompression” where the fuselage breaks apart suddenly and catastrophically.

For now, the search continues in the waters off the coast of Vietnam, with nine countries (Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, New Zealand and the United States) assisting, using more than 40 ships and 34 aircraft.

[Washington Post, N.Y. TimesDaily Beast, BBC]

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