Mystery Men Aboard Missing Jetliner ID'd as Iranians, No Terror Ties Suspected

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 11 2014 10:24 AM

Mystery Men Aboard Missing Jetliner ID'd as Iranians, No Terror Ties Suspected

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This composite shows CCTV imagery released by police of the two men believed to have been traveling on stolen passports. Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad is said to have used a stolen Austrian passport, and Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza is said to have used an Italian one. Neither have been linked to any terror group.

Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

The search for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues, but meanwhile police appear as though they are nearly ready to close the book on the case of the two men who boarded the plane with stolen passports and tickets purchased through an Iranian middleman, via the New York Times:

The Malaysian police said on Tuesday that one of the two passengers known to have used stolen passports to board the missing Malaysian airliner was a 19-year-old Iranian who wanted to migrate to Germany and who appeared to have no connection to terrorist organizations.
The passenger, Pouria Nourmohammadi Mehrdad, who was using a passport that had been stolen from an Austrian man, was traveling to Germany, where he was to meet his mother, said Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general of the Malaysian police. “We are in contact with his mother,” Mr. Khalid said at a news conference.
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ABC News reports that Interpol later identified the second mystery passenger as Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, 29, who arrived in Malaysia on the same day as Mehrdad. While authorities are still digging into Reza's past, the early evidence likewise points to an immigration attempt. (The two men were ultimately booked through to Amsterdam, at which point their flight itineraries diverged to a pair of other European cities.) Both, according to authorities, were traveling on Iranian passports for the leg of their journey that took them to Malaysia, and then are believed to have switched to the stolen Austrian and Italian travel documents while there.

"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident," Ronald K. Noble, Interpol's secretary general, told reporters at a briefing at the agency's headquarters in Lyon, France.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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