ISIS militants stole ‘tens of thousands’ of blank passports: report
The passports could be issued to would-be attackers to enter the European Union as asylum seeker
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may have stolen “tens of thousands” of blank passports that it could use to smuggle its fighters into Europe as refugees, a German newspaper reported Sunday.
The Welt am Sonntag cited Western intelligence sources as saying that ISIS could have acquired the stolen travel documents in areas of Syria, Iraq and Libya it now controls.
The passports could be issued to would-be attackers to enter the European Union as asylum seekers, according to the report.
Moreover ISIS has already launched a money-spinning operation with the fake documents, selling them on the black market where they fetch up to 1,500 euros ($1,630) each, Welt said.
European authorities have repeatedly warned of the potential threat posed by refugees travelling with counterfeit documents.
The two unidentified Stade de France attackers in Paris have been tracked back to two fake Syrian passports used to enter Europe.
“The large influx of people who are travelling to Europe unchecked represents a security risk,” the head of EU border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, told Welt.
Leggeri said that passports issued in war-ravaged countries such as Syria where conditions are chaotic mean that no one can guarantee “that documents that look real were actually issued by an official authority.”
Asked about the report, the German interior ministry offered a similar assessment.
“In light of the large number of entering migrants, it cannot be ruled out that among them are for example, criminals, war criminals, members of militant groups or terror organizations, or individuals with extremist views,” a spokesman told AFP.
“At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that these people are carrying fake documents.”
The German government said last week that it had initially overestimated the proportion of people entering the country with fake Syrian passports, which was in fact far less than the 30 percent announced by the interior minister in September.
Germany has to date maintained an open-door policy for Syrians escaping their country’s bloodshed, giving them “primary protection” -- the highest status for refugees.
Germany is Europe’s top destination for refugees, most of whom travel through Turkey and the Balkans, and expects more than one million arrivals this year.
European states share Syrian, Iraqi passport watchlistThe U.S. government has warned that ISIS has the ability to create fake Syrian passports Middle East
Man posts picture of passport after Facebook blocks his profileTwenty-three year-old Phuc Dat Bich’s ordeal with Facebook is believed to have stemmed out of his name Variety
Australian whose ‘offensive’ name went viral says he’s ‘honored’His case recently attracted media attention and he posted a picture of his passport to prove he was not lying Variety
France warns EU to ‘take responsibility’Manuel Valls said EU’s cherished passport-free Schengen zone would be in danger if the bloc did not improve border controls World News
Honduras arrests five Syrians headed to U.S. with stolen passportsHonduras authorities have arrested five Syrians intending to make it to the United States with stolen Greek passports, triggering alarm Wednesday in ... World News
Paris attacker may have had accomplice on journey through BalkansSuicide attacker found with Syrian passport, holder of passport reached Europe with migrants World News