According to several media outlets, the two Iranians who used stolen passports to board the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared are unlikely to be linked to any terrorist groups. This is a good thing. But, I am still baffled as to how not one but two people boarded an aircraft with stolen passports, especially in the height of all the fuss over airport security.
I know when I traveled to Montreal, Canada about a month ago my passport was checked 4 times before I made it to baggage claim. And, when I was on my way back to Texas from Canada, at the airport, my boarding pass along with my passport was checked at least 4 times that I vividly recall, from security to the terminal. I understand that this is North America, but it seems that all international airports would take the time to adequately check travelers’ passports and other documents, like boarding passes.
Even if passenger documents are checked, if these documents aren’t checked against Interpol’s database of stolen and lost travel documents, travelers using them can apparently slip through layer after layer of security, as we have seen demonstrated in this tragic situation.
In fact, Interpol said that during 2013, passengers were allowed to board planes more than 1 billion times without having their travel documents checked against their Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database that was established in 2002, following 9/11 as a way to help countries protect their borders. Oh, and by the way, the database is FREE to use.
According to Interpol, the US searches their database more than 250 million times annually; the UK more than 120 million times annually; and the United Arab Emirates more that 50 million times annually, so why aren’t all countries around the world utilizing this free resource?
It would seem that with all the smartphones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets along with sophisticated technology that is used worldwide, checking Interpol’s database wouldn’t take longer than a couple of seconds. Besides, I bet there's an app for that!
Precious seconds could be all that stands in the way of preventing a horrible incident from occurring.
(Image Credit: AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA