With possible access to blank Syrian passports, the terrorist group may have been creating legit-looking passports, warns US intelligence report
Washington: Islamic State in all likelihood has access to blank Syrian passports and printing machines and the terror group’s followers may have entered the US using the authentic-looking passports.
Two Syrian cities with passport offices have been taken over by ISIS. Representation Pic/AFP
A US Homeland Security Investigations Intelligence Report, issued to law enforcement last week, said ISIS likely has been printing legitimate-looking Syrian passports since taking over Deir ez-Zour, home to a passport office with “boxes of blank passports” and a passport printing machine.
Another passport office was located in Raqqa, Syria, which has long been the terror group’s de facto capital. “Since more than 17 months have passed since Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour fell to ISIS, it is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these ISIS cities, may have travelled to the US,” the report said.
The report notes that the primary source for the information was rated at “moderate confidence”, the second-highest rating given for source assessments. Testifying before lawmakers on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey first publicly talked about the nation’s top security officials’ anxiety over the problem.
“The intelligence community is concerned that they (ISIS) have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting,” Comey said.
Fake Syrian passports have already been discovered in Europe, most notably two used by suicide bombers in the horrific terrorist attack on Paris last month.
The two militants are believed to have slipped into Europe with a flood of Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their homeland.
Easy to obtain
According to the source, Syria is awash in fake documents. “The source stated fake Syrian passports can be obtained in Syria for $200 to $400 and that backdated passport stamps to be placed in the passport cost the same,” the report said.
The report said it is unclear what state the “blank” passports stolen from Deir ez-Zour were in or if they were completely blank.
It also notes that the “whereabouts of the passport machine(s) remain fluid.” “If ISIS ability to produce passports is not controlled, their operations will expand outside of their operational controlled areas,” the report concluded.
Britain’s MPs have been told to increase security in their homes and constituencies amid fears that they and their staff could be singled out for an attack by ISIS militants. With 300 suspected terrorists returning to the UK, security chiefs have warned of a direct threat. A security expert said, “Ministers who are in areas, where there are UK jihadists, are right to remain vigilant.”
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