Interpol: 250,000 lost or stolen Syrian and Iraqi passports in last 5 years

The problem of forged or fraudulent passports in Europe – especially from the Middle East – is so bad that it has forced the U.S. government to warn five countries that they have until next week to act, or they will lose their visa-free travel rights.

Interpol says there are 250,000 passports, mostly from Iraq and Syria, that have been lost or stolen in the last five years.  And that includes blank documents.

Politico:

American and European security officials speak of an “epidemic” created by a spike in demand from asylum-seekers — and from terrorists like those who carried out the Paris attacks last November, two of whom were carrying counterfeit documents.

In the aftermath of Paris, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security became so worried about the implications for screening travelers to America that it gave France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Greece a February 1 deadline to fix “crucial loopholes” or lose access to the U.S. visa waiver program. The program allows about 20 million people per year from 38 countries, most of them in Europe, to enter the United States for business or pleasure without a visa.

Next week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will report to President Barack Obama on how these countries have progressed.

On the issue of fraudulent passports, U.S. officials see a particular problem with two of the five: Greece and Italy.

The importance of counterfeit documents “as a facilitator in the movement of terrorists” is nothing new, said Interpol’s director of operational support and analysis, Michael O’Connell, pointing to the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report in the U.S..

European governments are aware of the problem. When EU justice and interior ministers met in Amsterdam on Monday, France’s Bernard Cazeneuve called for the creation of a task force to tackle a “real industry of false documents in Iraq, Syria and Libya,” which he said was run by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Cazeneuve said fraudulent passports are “very hard to detect” because they are often genuine documents seized from pubic offices overrun by ISIL or taken from dead soldiers or civilians. The French minister said that combating this trade was crucial to avoiding “further atrocities in future.”

How bad is it?  Greece and Italy are on the front lines of the refugee crisis, and both countries report that they've been overwhelmed with the fakes:

One Greek intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that “between five and seven percent of all Greek passports stem from fake ID cards or birth certificates,” which he acknowledged were “fairly easy” to procure.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brought up this problem with Greek officials when he visited Athens in early December, sources said. Ten days later, the Greek ministry of public order and the police set up a joint task force which has until the end of February to come up with a plan to replace existing national ID cards with electronic versions with a computer chip.

You get the creeping feeling that all of this is closing the barn door after the horse has long fled.  Of course, the implications for the U.S. acceptance of tens of thousands of refugees are staggering.  With the government unable – or unwilling – to be able to tell the fakes from the real thing, it is a virtual certainty that some terrorists and terrorist sympathizers are going to make it into the U.S. 

But the administration and their supporters of our refugee policy believe that the risk is acceptable.  Acceptable for whom?  And why is the risk necessary to take?  If some European states want to relax their borders and allow people who may do them harm entry into their countries, why should America follow them over the cliff and do the same thing?

Illogical and insane.

The problem of forged or fraudulent passports in Europe – especially from the Middle East – is so bad that it has forced the U.S. government to warn five countries that they have until next week to act, or they will lose their visa-free travel rights.

Interpol says there are 250,000 passports, mostly from Iraq and Syria, that have been lost or stolen in the last five years.  And that includes blank documents.

Politico:

American and European security officials speak of an “epidemic” created by a spike in demand from asylum-seekers — and from terrorists like those who carried out the Paris attacks last November, two of whom were carrying counterfeit documents.

In the aftermath of Paris, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security became so worried about the implications for screening travelers to America that it gave France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Greece a February 1 deadline to fix “crucial loopholes” or lose access to the U.S. visa waiver program. The program allows about 20 million people per year from 38 countries, most of them in Europe, to enter the United States for business or pleasure without a visa.

Next week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will report to President Barack Obama on how these countries have progressed.

On the issue of fraudulent passports, U.S. officials see a particular problem with two of the five: Greece and Italy.

The importance of counterfeit documents “as a facilitator in the movement of terrorists” is nothing new, said Interpol’s director of operational support and analysis, Michael O’Connell, pointing to the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report in the U.S..

European governments are aware of the problem. When EU justice and interior ministers met in Amsterdam on Monday, France’s Bernard Cazeneuve called for the creation of a task force to tackle a “real industry of false documents in Iraq, Syria and Libya,” which he said was run by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Cazeneuve said fraudulent passports are “very hard to detect” because they are often genuine documents seized from pubic offices overrun by ISIL or taken from dead soldiers or civilians. The French minister said that combating this trade was crucial to avoiding “further atrocities in future.”

How bad is it?  Greece and Italy are on the front lines of the refugee crisis, and both countries report that they've been overwhelmed with the fakes:

One Greek intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that “between five and seven percent of all Greek passports stem from fake ID cards or birth certificates,” which he acknowledged were “fairly easy” to procure.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brought up this problem with Greek officials when he visited Athens in early December, sources said. Ten days later, the Greek ministry of public order and the police set up a joint task force which has until the end of February to come up with a plan to replace existing national ID cards with electronic versions with a computer chip.

You get the creeping feeling that all of this is closing the barn door after the horse has long fled.  Of course, the implications for the U.S. acceptance of tens of thousands of refugees are staggering.  With the government unable – or unwilling – to be able to tell the fakes from the real thing, it is a virtual certainty that some terrorists and terrorist sympathizers are going to make it into the U.S. 

But the administration and their supporters of our refugee policy believe that the risk is acceptable.  Acceptable for whom?  And why is the risk necessary to take?  If some European states want to relax their borders and allow people who may do them harm entry into their countries, why should America follow them over the cliff and do the same thing?

Illogical and insane.