Records from the German Federal Criminal Police Office, reportedly seen by German weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag, show ISIS fighters having obtained such documents, which could mean that sleeper cells of terrorists may already be embedded in Europe.
German authorities have compiled list of the passport serial numbers that could be used by the group, the newspaper reported on Sunday. It cited confidential documents of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the interior ministry and the country’s federal police (BPOL).
“Developments in connection with the refugee situation have shown that terrorist organisations are using the opportunity to (smuggle) potential attackers or supporters into Europe and Germany undetected,” Bild quoted a spokeswoman for the federal police.
“Fake or altered passports are mostly used for illegal entry without further motives like carrying out a terrorist attack,” the spokeswoman added.
Bild claimed that 8 625 passports checked by German migration authorities in 2016 were fake, and it means loads more work for authorities. “We are talking about much more cases! These passport holders must now be checked and their accommodation should be searched by police,” an investigator within State Criminal Police Office (LKA), an independent law enforcement agency, explained to the newspaper.
German weekly, Der Spiegel newspaper moreover reported that several dozen Syrian extremists linked to the al-Nusra Front and ISIS terrorist groups, have sought asylum in Germany. A Syrian identity document has enormous value as a result of the conflict that rages on in the country because European countries have sought to help “Syrian refugees”, and having such an identity document is a golden ticket for many.
ISIS have been known to send in terrorists posing as “refugees” and asylum seekers, as happened with the Paris attacks and also in the Berlin Christmas market atrocity. Blank passports could now make their job a lot easier.
“According to BKA information, there are 11 100 Syrian blank passports… in the hands of the Islamic State,” the documents from the interior ministry reportedly stated.
In total, 18 002 blank Syrian passports were stolen from the Syrian government, Bild am Sonntag noted and these fake or altered passports were mostly used “for illegal entry without further motives like carrying out a terrorist attack,” the official added.
Germany received some over 740 000 asylum applications in 2016, according to data from The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) published by asylumineurope.org. The majority of applicants came from Syria, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.