A correspondent for the Daily Mail demonstrated just how easy it is to obtain forged Syrian documents of the kind reportedly in demand by migrants aiming to gain asylum in Europe.
Nick Fagge said it took him five days and $2,000 to obtain a Syrian passport, ID card and driver’s license that were smuggled over the border into Turkey.
The Daily Mail reported that the documents were stolen from Syria when they were still blank, after which a Syrian forger added Fagge’s photo and the name of a Syrian man from Aleppo killed last year, thus creating a new identify for him.
Syrian migrants are more likely to be granted asylum in Europe as opposed to economic migrants, a policy that has encouraged many travelers to dump their non-Syrian documents upon arriving in Europe or purchase phony identifying papers in Turkey.
The easy access to fake documents has also raised concerns about Islamic State fighters hiding among asylum seekers in order to infiltrate Europe.
The Daily Mail reported that the forger who sold its reporter the documents said that fake papers were already being used by Islamic State operatives.
“ISIS fighters are among the people going to Europe in this way. They are going to wait for the right time to become a fighter for ISIS again,” the unnamed forger said.
Not only could the Islamic State thus more easily launch future attacks in Europe, but if as asylum seekers the militants eventually gain European citizenship, an E.U. passport would allow easy access to the U.S. which does not require short-term visas for most European countries.
The Daily Mail noted that the passport it acquired came from one of the many Syrian government offices seized by opposition groups. One way opposition forces make money is by grabbing documents from those offices then selling them to asylum seekers.
A reporter for the Associated Press earlier this month found identity cards from an array of countries dumped along the Serbia-Hungary border, including Pakistani and Bangladeshi identity cards and an Iraqi driver’s license, offering more evidence of the efforts to pose as Syrians.