If a refugee has a false passport that may be originating from the IS, this does not automatically mean that he is an IS follower. He might have other reasons for using the passport: His homeland is torn apart by the civil war, many personal documents have been burned in destroyed houses or have been left behind on the run.
The situation in many regions makes it almost impossible to obtain a new passport the regular way. Before they leave without papers, many prefer to obtain a fake passport. Where it comes from – from the corrupt regime, from criminals, from smugglers or even from the IS – nobody worries about it in dire need.
There are also refugees of other nationalities who pretend to be Syrians with the help of forged documents, because asylum seekers from Syria have a good chance of being granted the right to stay in the EU. However, the counterfeiter problem does not seem to be as big as once suspected. Samples taken by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) showed a complaint rate of only eight percent for Syrian passports. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) had previously claimed that 30 percent of asylum seekers claiming to be Syrians were none at all.
What does Europol have to say about this?
The European police authority Europol has warned against the increasing use of forged passports by criminals. Robert Crepinko, head of the “European Centre to Combat the Smuggling of Migrants” founded a year ago, said in an interview with “Die Welt”: “Business continues to grow. We note that the number of forged documents is increasing.”
Such passports are used in particular when migrants have arrived in Europe. “If you have a very well forged passport, you have a good chance of passing through police controls or even flying undetected within Europe,” said Crepinko. “Criminals are thus trying to disappear from the radar of the security authorities.
Last year, Europol succeeded in digging up several counterfeiters’ workshops, like in Greece. “Often we are dealing with well-organised networks stretching across several countries.”
The Slovenian also warned of a possible terrorist threat that could emanate from migrants from Libya.
“Due to the failure of the Libyan state and the spread of various Islamist militias, we have to be particularly vigilant in Europe,” said Crepinko.
A Europol analysis in December concluded that Libya could become a new springboard for the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia to Europe. “Experts expect the IS to plan and execute attacks from Libya as soon as the current phase of the IS’s focus on land gains and the elimination of local enemies is over,” the paper said.
In January, the US Department of Defense had justified an air raid in Libya by claiming that this jihadist had been “actively planning assassinations against our allies in Europe“. Some had also been involved in “attacks that have already taken place in Europe“.