Two passengers who boarded the Malaysian airliner which dropped out of sight two hours after departing Kuala Lumpur Saturday, March 8, purchased flight tickets at the same time with serial numbers in sequence: 7842280116099 and 78422801160100. Both used stolen passports in the names of the Italian Luigi Maraldi and the Austrian Christian Kozel to travel to Beijing and on to Amsterdam by KLM
They never lived to reach the Chinese capital and went down in the South China Sea with 227 passengers and a dozen crew.
Malaysian Airline officials said the two unidentified passengers were not required to show Chinese visas because they were in transit to Amsterdam and would not have left Beijing airport. Not until Sunday, as 40 ships and 22 planes scoured the ocean, was the first object believed to have come from the missing plane discovered (and later dismissed).
A terrorist attack was not ruled out as the investigation widened out from Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to encompass dozens of international intelligence agencies. debkafile’s counterterrorism sources report they are looking for answers to two key questions:
1. Why did the Malaysian airline’s staff and security officials omit the routine practice at most international airports to check the passports of check-in passengers with the Interpol list of stolen and lost passports which is circulated to all airports?
2. To pass through the airport, did the phony passport-holders replace the original photos with their own? If so, there would have been some evidence of a fault in the document, which should have been picked up by someone along the line from the travel agency which sold the tickets to the airline desk and security staff at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Sunday, Interpol issued a sharp reprimand: No country checked its database for information about the stolen passports that were used to board the Malaysian Airlines 777 flight that disappeared with 239 people aboard. Information about thefts of an Austrian passport in 2012 and an Italian passport last year was entered into its database after they were stolen in Thailand.
The Interpol statement added that it has begun an inquiry to discover the identities of the two passengers using the stolen documents.
According to Malaysian security officials, the FBI has also joined the investigation and is comparing all the passengers on the plane against its own terrorist watch lists.
Meanwhile, every scrap of information is being gathered from every conceivable source. Investigators are combing through airport and hotel CCTV tapes for comparisons of the passengers boarding the plane with international watch lists. Interviews are being carried out with the desk staff at Kuala Lumpur hotels and the taxi drivers who brought passengers to the airport.
The mystery of the missing Malaysian plane deepens as every theory raised to account for its loss is quickly knocked on the head.
American security sources, who declined to be identified, reported that US intelligence agencies have checked for an explosion anywhere on the map, but found no sign of a blast in the vicinity of the airliner’s disappearance.
The report by Malaysian Air Force Commander Gen. Tan Sri Datuk Sri that military radar showed the pilot of the stricken plane had tried to turn back is also negated by aviation experts, who maintain that even if the flight crew were immobilized, the aircraft would have automatically signaled that the plane was off course.
No such signal reached air control.
In the history of aviation terrorism, it is not often that nothing at all is known about what happened aboard the missing plane to account for its disappearance. There is so little to go on – not even a distress call or an emergency-beacon signal.
Five years ago, Air France Airbus A330 with 228 passengers and crew aboard crashed in the Atlantic en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. There were no survivors. When fragments of wreckage were eventually retrieved from the ocean bed, investigators reported that a technical malfunction had caused the disaster. Some reputable terror experts remain unconvinced of this up to the present day.
Two years ago, in July 2012, a bus carrying Israeli tourists was attacked in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas. Five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed. The most intense efforts by Israeli, Bulgarian and FBI investigators to identity the suicide killer responsible for the attack and his accomplices have never tracked them down.