KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Chinese aviation authorities arrived here Monday to assist in an investigation of a missing jetliner that it has complained is going slow as investigators zeroed in on two mystery passengers traveling aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight.
Authorities questioned travel agents Monday at a beach resort in Thailand about two men who boarded the doomed plane with stolen passports and one-way tickets bound for Europe.
Electronic booking records show the tickets were issued Thursday from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya in eastern Thailand at the request of a second travel agency in Pattaya, Grand Horizon, Thai police Col. Supachai Phuykaeokam said.
The Financial Times, citing Thai police, said the ticket purchase was made over the phone by an Iranian man named Kazem Ali, who used the stolen passports he said were those of two friends who wanted to return home to Europe. The tickets were paid for in cash, the Times said.
Global Horizon’s owner, Benjaporn Krutnait, said she believed Ali was not connected to terrorism because he had asked for the cheapest tickets to Europe and did not specify the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight.
Malaysia’s police chief told news media in Kuala Lumpur that one of the two men had been identified. Civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said video of the men believed to be traveling with the stolen passports showed that they were of “non-Asian” appearance.
Interpol, the international police agency, confirmed that the stolen passports were entered into its database in 2012 and 2013 but that no authorities in Malaysia — or any other country — had checked.
Rahman stressed that it is not known whether the two men had anything to do with the plane’s disappearance. Illegal migrants and criminals often use forged or stolen passports.
The FBI will run the fingerprints and photos through its databases in hopes of identifying the men… see more