Intelligence officials released a report to law enforcement on Friday warning that ISIS has access to passport printing machines and blank passport books. The source noted that, beyond the report, there’s concern that this capability coupled with ISIS access to government buildings in Syria that contain valid biographical data and fingerprint info on Syrian citizens give rise to the threat of identity theft. ICE officially issued the warning in the past few weeks which included a concern that is is possible that someone may have traveled to the United States using a fake passport.
Maine Independent Sen. Angus Kind told CNN’s Brianna Keilar Friday that the U.S. is moving toward developing passports with chips that have biometric data that cannot be faked. The 18-page report, circulated to law enforcement agencies across the nation, warns that a certain batch of Syrian passports – those issued since June 2014 from two regions under the Islamic State control, Deir- ez-Zour and Raqqa – are likely to be phonies, based on the fact one was bought on the black market in Turkey.
The report, developed with intelligence from Homeland Security Investigations and the State Department, also asserts ISIS is using its own passport printing machines to generate the bogus documents with covers printed in Russia, and then selling them for between $200 and $400. Intelligence agencies have already flagged some 3,800 counterfeit Syrian passports, and will add data on another 10,000 fake Syrian passports recently intercepted in Bulgaria on the way to Germany.
The sheer volume of fake passports flooding the market as refugees – or terrorists posing as refugees – pour into Europe has investigators on edge. Homeland Security Investigations believes the police force in Deir ez-Zour, Syria, may be involved in issuing and distributing counterfeit passports, because a forged Syrian passport that turned up in Turkey in July displayed the signature of Zuhair Hamad saad Al deen, head of the Deir ez-Zour Police. Terrorists involved in the deadly Paris terrorist attack which left 130 dead and more than 300 injured, used fake Syrian passports to enter France. State Department spokesman John Kirby said government officials are “mindful” that terrorists could be making false passports.
We have been aware of reports, not just in the press, that they may have obtained this capability,” he said. “Obviously, it’s something that we take seriously. It’s obviously something, clearly that we’re mindful of.”
The U.S. has already accepted 2,500 Syrian refugees into the country since 2011. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees continue to flee the war torn country, crossing into Turkey, Greece and Europe. The Obama administration plans to welcome some 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. in the coming year.