Iranian youth used stolen Austrian passport, says top cop

Police today identified the bearer of the stolen Austrian passport, one of two used to board missing MH370, was an Iranian national, Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, who was on his way to Germany.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said checks revealed that Pouri was not linked to any terrorist groups.

Pouri came into the country on February 28 and left on March 8 on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

"We identified him through the biometric data taken from him when he first came into the country. He was on a 90-day social visit pass.

"He was migrating to Germany," he said.

Khalid said the Iranian passenger's mother was expecting him in Frankfurt and knew he was travelling on a stolen passport. Pouri was to have flown to Frankfurt on Saturday night, from Beijing. When questioned further on how Malaysian police were sure that Pouri was not a terrorist, Khalid said their counterparts all over had the cleared the youth.

On identifying Pouri and discovering his motive for using a stolen passport, Khalid credited this to close cooperation with the Iranian authorities. "We have spoken to Pouri's mother, who is in Frankfurt, Germany. She grew worried after he did not arrive there," Khalid said.

That was how police concluded that Pouri was merely using the stolen passport as an attempt to migrate to Europe.

Police also released the photographs of the two passengers travelling on stolen passports but are still trying to identify the second man, said to be travelling on a stolen Italian passport.

Khalid said their investigations were currently centred on four areas – psychological and personal problems among passengers and crew, hijacking and sabotage.

"We have examined the passenger manifest and spoken to our counterparts in 14 countries.

"For example, China had supplied the photographs of its 153 nationals who were onboard MH370," Khalid said.

Besides examining the profiles and background of all the 239 passengers onboard the flight, police were also scrutinising the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) footage at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Khalid was asked why the Immigration officers did not carry out checks on passports to match them against Interpol's database.

"There are more than 40 million lost and stolen passports registered in Interpol's database.

"We normally work on intelligence reports and tip-offs. As we did not have any prior information about the stolen passports, we did not inform the Immigration Department (to look out for those passports)."

Khalid added that besides scrutinising CCTV footage of the passengers, they were also checking the baggage and what had been loaded onto MH370.

He did not discount the possibility of a bomb or explosive device being placed onboard MH370.

When asked to elaborate on psychological or personal issues among the crew and passengers, Khalid said there were different scenarios.

"For example, one of the passengers might have purchased a hefty insurance policy prior to flying on MH370.

"Perhaps the passenger is hoping that his family will benefit from his death," Khalid said. Or, he added, a passenger might have enormous pressure from huge debts and decided to end his suffering.

"That is why we are studying the profile of each passenger carefully to try and piece together what has happened."

But, Khalid said, the truth would only emerge once MH370 has been found.

MH370 dropped off radar on Saturday at 1.20am and the combined search and rescue efforts by 10 nations have failed to unearth any clues so far. The flight took off at 12.41 am from KLIA and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day. – March 11, 2014.