KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is looking at a possible terror link in the disappearance of an airliner believed to have gone down in the sea with 239 people aboard, the country’s transport minister said Sunday.
Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysian security agencies were investigating after it was discovered that two passengers may have boarded missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 using stolen passports, raising fears of potential terrorism.
“At the same time our own intelligence have been activated, and of course, the counterterrorism units… from all the relevant countries have been informed.”
Two people named on a list of passengers on board missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 were not on the plane, but both had reported their passports stolen.
Foreign ministry officials in Rome and Vienna confirmed on Saturday night that the names of two nationals listed on the manifest of the flight matched those of passports reported stolen in Thailand.
Italian foreign ministry officials said that Luigi Maraldi, originally believed to have boarded the plane in Kuala Lumpur, was traveling in Thailand when the Beijing-bound flight took off at just after midnight on Friday.
He had reported his passport stolen last August, said a foreign ministry functionary, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Italian news agency ANSA says Maraldi called home after hearing reports that someone with his name was on the plane.
“He is alright, he is on vacation, on the beach,” his mother told the Italian national TV broadcaster RAI.
Similarly, Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Weiss confirmed that a name listed on the manifest matches an Austrian passport reported stolen two years ago in Phuket, Thailand. Weiss would not confirm the identity, although Britain’s Daily Mirror website named him as Christian Kozel, aged 30.