Cover of the weekly Nieuwe Revu this week features a photo of a forged Syrian passport on behalf of Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister (Liberal Conservatives). The journalists of the Dutch magazine, who had the document made by a forger, wanted to verify “the rumours circulating in northern Syria that it is very easy to obtain a fake Syrian passport” since “rebels seem to have got their hands on a number of printers and thousands of blank passports”.
False identity documents bought from internet websites can be used by all kinds of people, warn journalists: European jihadists who want to return to Europe, Syrian war criminals or non-Syrians who want to pretend to be Syrians to apply for asylum in Europe.
Result of the investigation: “Buying a fake Syrian passport is as simple as saying hello. All we need is a telephone number of one of the many counterfeiters, and $825 (750 euros), the amount negotiated for a passport and an identity card]. In less than forty hours, it happened: “The journalists went through a Syrian middleman who passed along the passport photo – an image of Mr. Rutte found on the Internet – and a fictitious Syrian name, Malek Ramadan, to the falsifier,” a Syrian from Idlib city “. While the forger hesitated a little while observing the Western passport photo, he did not know that it was a picture of the Dutch Prime Minister and accepted his mission without further questions.
According to reporters, “the[false] ID documents are printed in the vicinity of Azaz and Sarmada, two cities in northern Syria”. While there are “no reliable figures” on the number of forged identity documents issued – estimates vary from “a few dozen a day to hundreds a month” – Frontex said on 1 September that the traffic in forged passports is growing. According to the European Border Control Agency, most falsified documents are used by people wishing to visit the European Union.