While progress on the search-and-recovery efforts of the missing Malaysian Airlines jet continues to disappoint, the stolen-passport plot thickens considerably. While earlier we discovered that it was a mysterious "Mr. Ali" that purchased the tickets for the two passengers traveling on stolen passports (with cash), The Telegraph reports that BBC Persia confirms they were Iranian nationals. According to another Iranian friend (who had hosted them while in Kuala Lumpur) the two were "looking for a place to settle" in Europe (intending to complete their journey in Frankfurt and Denmark).
Correlation is, of course, not causation; and conspiracy theories are running rampant. As CNN notes,
"Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in INTERPOL's databases," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in a statement.
"We have speculation run amok, because we have no facts," said Michael Goldfarb, a former chief of staff for the Federal Aviation Administration.
But it is clear by the level of investigation that authorities are 'interested' in these two gentlemen, we now know to be of Iranian nationality...
The two men said by Interpol to have been travelling on stolen passports on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that mysteriously disappeared on Saturday have been identified as Iranian nationals.
A BBC Persia report quotes an Iranian friend of one of the men, who said he hosted the pair in Kuala Lumpur after they arrived from Tehran in the days preceding their flight to Beijing.
The friend, who knew one of the men from his school days in Iran, said the men had bought the fake passports because they wanted to migrate to Europe.
One of the Iranian nationals intended final destination was Frankfurt, where his mother lives, while the other wanted to travel to Denmark.
The same source that spoke to BBC Persia also emailed CNN with a photograph of him posing with his two friends in the days before they embarked on their fateful trip.
BBC Persia’s UN correspondent Bahman Kalbasi told The Telegraph that the two Iranians were “looking for a place to settle”.
Of course, Iran remains a troubled and stifled economy thanks in large part to US-led sanctions and (as The Telegraph notes)
US-led sanctions on Iran have plagued the economy and encouraged many young Iranians, who face high unemployment, to seek ways to travel to Europe, North America or Australia – legally or illegally.
So, to summarize: 3 days ago a Malaysian Airlines jet disappears suddenly leaving no wreckage... the passenger manifest included 2 Ukrainians... and 2 Iranians who were traveling on stolen passports bought for them in cash by a mysterious Iranian known as "Mr.Ali"... who hoped to emigrate to Europe (by way of Kuala Lumpur and Beijing)...