The search is on for a man known only as “Mr. Ali” after a travel agent revealed that he purchased the two Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tickets for the men who boarded the plane using stolen passports before it vanished on Mar. 8.
Still unable to find Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the jetliner carrying 239 passengers that vanished on Mar. 8, authorities are at least hoping to uncover what or who caused the disappearance. They got a new lead in the case on Mar. 10 when a Thai travel agent revealed that she booked the two men traveling on stolen passports for the flight, and that an Iranian man known only as Mr. Ali purchased the tickets for the passengers.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Is ‘Mr. Ali’ Responsible?
The travel agent Benjaporn Krutnait revealed that this Mr. Ali asked her to purchase two cheap flights for the men on Mar. 1, according to the Financial Times. Benjaporn stated that she has been purchasing tickets for this Iranian intermediary for the past three years, and that he did not specifically ask that the men be put on Flight MH370.
In fact, the two men were reportedly initially meant to fly out of Kuala Lumpur on an earlier date, but their travel plans had to be rescheduled. After landing at Flight MH370’s destination, Beijing, the two men were supposed to then fly to Amsterdam, where one of them would have gotten on a connecting flight to Copenhagen, and the other to Frankfurt.
A search is now on for the man known only as Mr. Ali, though authorities believe these odd ticket purchasing circumstances likely signal a refugee scam, rather than a terrorist plot. “It doesn’t matter that the passport is going to be detected upon arrival. All you need is something that will get you on the plane,” security consultant Chris Mathers said. “When they would get to Beijing, the passports would likely not have been checked because they would be in the in-transit area. Then, when they get on the plane to Europe, they flush the passports and declare refugee status in Europe. This happens a lot.”
Stolen Passport Passengers Looked ‘African’
As for these two potential refugees, closed-circuit television footage has reportedly revealed that the men did not appear to be Asian. Malaysian authorities are now saying that they looked African, similar to Mario Balotelli, a famous soccer player whose birth parents are from Ghana.
The images of the men have been shared with U.S. intelligence agencies, in an effort to identify them and bolster what is really the only substantial lead in determining what happened to Flight MH370.
— Andrew Gruttadaro