Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mystery Jet Men 'Look like Balotelli' Pair Who Used Stolen Passports to Board Airliner Caught on CCTV

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mystery Jet Men 'Look like Balotelli' Pair Who Used Stolen Passports to Board Airliner Caught on CCTV

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

ONE of two mystery passengers on board the missing Malaysian airliner was reportedly identified today, as intelligence agencies worldwide studied CCTV images to determine whether the plane was the target of a terrorist attack.

The disclosure came as officials admitted the fate of the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers remained an "unprecedented aviation mystery" , with still no sign of the plane nearly three days after it disappeared.

Around 40 ships, including some from the US Seventh Fleet, and 34 planes were today continuing to scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam in the area where the aircraft last made contact.

But as a series of possible sightings of wreckage proved false and with speculation continuing about a terrorist attack, attention was focusing on two passengers who boarded the flight using fake passports.

A Malaysian police chief said one of the men had been identified as a foreign citizen, but gave no further details. Another official claimed at a news conference that the pair had looked like the Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, prompting laughter from incredulous reporters.

"Do you know a footballer by the name of Balotelli," said civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman when asked what the two mystery passengers looked like.

Correcting his initial pronunciation in response to a request for confirmation that he was really comparing the men with the footballer, who is famed for his mohican haircut, Mr Rahman added: "Balotelli, yes".

In a further development, Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein revealed the pair had been captured on CCTV. The images are being studied by local security experts and intelligence agencies around the world.

Interpol and the White House have confirmed that they were involved in trying to discover the background of the two passengers. …

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