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Men on missing Malaysia Airlines plane with stolen passports were Iranians

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With possible hijacking and terrorism at the top of the list of explanations for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane and Interpol searching its database to further ensure that no more than two passengers boarded the aircraft, Flight MH370, using stolen passports, security agencies, not to mention the families of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the missing plane, might find some relief in the news that the international police agency has discovered the identity of the two passengers known to have acquired tickets using the aforementioned stolen passports. Both of the men were Iranian nationals, Interpol reported.

AFP reported (via Yahoo News) March 11 that Interpol identified the two passengers traveling with false passports as Pouria Nourmohammadi, 18, and Seyed Mohammed Reza Delavar, 29. Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday with Beijing, China, as its destination. The international police agency, through family members and various contacts, found that Nourmohammadi was booked to fly on to Germany. Delavar's ultimate destination was Sweden. Both tickets were bought at the same time through the same ticket agent, a report by Financial Times revealed.

Both men were said to be seeking asylum in Europe.

Given the information, Interpol noted that the two young men were most likely not terrorists.

Although red flags might have gone up upon discovery that the pair of men traveling with stolen passports were from Iran, a nation currently at odds with much of the Western world and heavily sanctioned by members of the Untied Nations, uncovering that they seemed to be part of a scheme to emigrate from Iran left authorities reasonably assured that the Malaysian Airlines plane was not hijacked or brought down by acts of those particular men. However, Interpol continued its scouring of its stolen and lost passport database as it attempted to ensure that there were no other passengers aboard Flight MH370 traveling under assumed identities.

Even with the identification of the two men, terrorism of some sort or an act of hijacking cannot be fully ruled out with regard to the whereabouts or disposition of the aircraft.

After three full days of constant search, the plane remains missing. Even more troubling, the Malaysia military reported that tracking radar from a military base placed the Boeing 777 hundreds of miles west of where it was last detected by civilian aviation radar. Flight MH370 was originally believed to have disappeared over the South China Sea on its way to Beijing, but the Malaysia military places the last known location of the plane hundreds of miles to the west at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca, which is a body of separated from the Sea of China by the Malaysia mainland. But it is there that the signal form the plane again disappears.

At neither location, nor during the transit from one point to the other, was a distress signal detected.

A ranking Malaysian military figure, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report on the plane's last known position and also noted the aircraft was flying low. (Low-flying aircraft are more difficult to detect with regular radar equipment.)

Searches for the missing plane have been widened to include areas around the Strait of Malacca (which includes Indonesian territory and the island of Sumatra). More than 40 ships and planes had been employed in searching the South China Sea prior to the updated information from the Malaysian military.

Malaysia civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, the search for the missing plane remained "on both sides" of the country.

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