With the Syrian refugee crisis raising concerns among Western officials of the possibility of ISIS capitalizing on the chaos to infiltrate the West, a new report reveals that the jihadist terror organization may have the ability to print legitimate Syrian passports.
According to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News, US officials are concerned that ISIS may have possession of a passport printing machine, issuing forged passports and documents to its operatives. Officials believe that jihadists may have already entered the US using the falsified documents.
Officials believe that the passport machine was seized when ISIS took control of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour last year. The local passport office was stocked with “dozens of blank passports” and a printing machine. Additional passports could also have been made in Raqqa, an ISIS controlled city.
“It is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these (IS) controlled cities…may have traveled to the US,” the Department of Homeland Security wrote in a report.
FBI Chief James Comey acknowledged the threat to lawmakers in a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, stating, “The intelligence community is concerned that they have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports.”
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the government is “mindful” that terrorists are falsifying passports and “obviously, it’s something we take seriously.”
Concern over ISIS jihadists infiltrating the West has become a major concern following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Two of the ISIS affiliated terrorists behind the Paris attacks entered the country using fake Syrian passports.
In a new warning issued by the European Union border agency, the trafficking in fake Syrian passports has increased dramatically as Syrian refugees continue to flood the EU’s border.
“If (Islamic State’s) ability to produce passports is not controlled, their operations will continue to increase and expand outside their operational controlled areas,” the report stated.