COUNTERTERRORISM: Malaysian Airliner Missing UPDATE
Mystery at Sea.
UPDATES with INTERPOL statement, continuing passport investigation
The search continues for a Beijing-bound Malaysian Airlines jet carrying 239 passengers and crew that disappeared over the weekend without a trace. Aircraft and naval vessels from at least four nations have mounted a massive search in the South China Sea between Vietnam and Malaysia.
Normally, 4GWAR wouldn’t post on such an event but an issue has arisen that has piqued our interest – and concern.
Air traffic control lost contact with Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 about an hour after it departed Kuala Lumpur Saturday (March 8). There was no indication of trouble from the crew of the Boeing 777- – no distress signal – and no reported weather issues, according to the Associated Press.
Lists of passengers were posted by airport officials in China and by the airline. There were a few discrepancies in passenger names but two people said to be on the plane have come forward to say they are elsewhere in the word and not on the missing plane. In both cases, the persons in question – one from Austria, the other from Italy – said their passports were stolen in Thailand over the last two years, according to Reuters.
The international police agency, INTERPOL, confirmed in a statement Sunday (March 9) that both the Italian and Austrian passports used to board the Malaysian airliner had been reported stolen and had been entered into the massive Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database maintained by the the police organization. But INTERPOL also said no country checked the database between the time they were added to the database and when the missing plane took off. “INTERPOL is therefore unable to determine” how many other times the stolen documents were used “to board flights or cross borders,” the Lyons, France-based agency said.
Meanwhile, INTERPOL said it was checking to see if any of the other passports used to board the plane were stolen and it was working with the countries involved to determine the true identities of the passengers who used the stolen passports. The current head of INTERPOL, Secretary General Ronald Noble, complained that “only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care” to keep people with stolen passports off international flights.
It could be a coincidence, that two people using stolen passports could have wound up on the same flight. Maybe they were fugitives or refugees from their home countries or criminals trying to elude police or smuggle drugs. But U.S. officials are investigating whether terrorist are somehow involved, according to NBC News.
Even if foul play does not prove to be the cause of this baffling incident, the stolen passports indicate a serious flaw in global aviation security measures. What good is having a database to protect the flying public if governments don’t use it consistently? We’ll keep our eye on this still-unfolding story and also keep our fingers crossed that this incident — it it doesn’t have a happy conclusion — is at least not the latest in a string of attacks and attempted attacks on international air travel.
Entry filed under: Aircraft, Asia-Pacific, Counter Terrorism, News Developments. Tags: aerospace, aviation disasters, aviation security, counter terrorism, Homeland Security, Interpol, Malaysian Airlines missing, stolen passports.