Missing MH370: Intelligence agencies helping to identify impostors

SEPANG - The photographs of the two impostors who boarded Flight MH370 that went missing on Saturday have been released to international intelligence agencies.

This is to help identify them, said Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

"We hope to be able to release the photos to the media in soon.

"All relevant information is being digested by the relevant intelligence agencies. It is premature to release any information for now," he told a press conference in Malaysia yesterday.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly said on Monday that the two impostors appeared to be Asian.

Asked whether they were Asian-looking, Hishammuddin said: "No, not that I know of."

On a possible security lapse that had enabled the two impostors to get through Immigration checks, Hishammuddin said that more than 40 million stolen passports were now in the Interpol database.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that one of the impostors had been identified from CCTV footage at KLIA.

"I can confirm that he is not a Malaysian, but cannot divulge which country he is from yet," he said.

He, however, added: "The man we have identified is not from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China."

"We are now working to identify the other suspect," Khalid told reporters at the Kajang police headquarters yesterday.

He said police did not have verification of a Chinese militant group claiming responsibility for the missing plane.

Khalid was commenting on reports published on various Chinese news portals that a group calling itself the Chinese Martyrs' Brigade claimed responsibility for crashing MH370.

Officials who viewed the CCTV footage said the two two men using the stolen passports appeared Caucasian.

Italian Luigi Maraldi, whose name is in the manifest, was not on the missing plane, and according to news reports from Italy, his passport was stolen last August while he was in Thailand.

Austrian Christan Kozel, whose passport was used by another passenger, had also been confirmed to be safe and well.

Kozel told an Austrian newspaper that his passport was stolen when he visited Thailand two years ago.

The officials said the impostors must have replaced the photos of the passport owners with their own.

"The two impostors apparently got through the visual check quite easily because the photos on the passports matched their faces," one of the officials said.

Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman dismissed suggestions that security was lax.

"Our airport security has met the standards set by the US National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration throughout the years," he said.