Tags: Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | War on Terrorism

Fake Greek Passports Pose Real Terror Threat

Fake Greek Passports Pose Real Terror Threat
Hiding identity by discarding passport photo: Greece (AP)  

By Tuesday, 08 December 2015 11:22 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The debate over admission of Syrian refugees to the United States rages on. The predictable word storm, in which accusations of “racism” and “naïveté” are hurled back and forth across the political aisle show no sign of abating.

Meanwhile a much more immediate and dangerous threat goes almost unnoticed.

Across Central America and the Caribbean in recent weeks groups of Syrians have been apprehended traveling on false Greek passports.

All of the groups, prior to arrest, had already successfully transited multiple international airports without tripping alarms.

In all cases it appears, the Syrians were detained, not because of defects with the documents, but because of tips from Greek authorities or issues with the demeanor and behavior of the Syrians using the documents.

These facts should terrify all of us.

A fraudulent Greek passport does not simply convey on the bearer a new name and identity. It conveys Greek citizenship.

It also grants the bearer all the rights and privileges of European Union membership. A person carrying a Greek passport can walk, ride or fly across every border in most of Europe without being stopped, questioned or screened.

A person carrying a Greek passport can also fly into any nation having visa reciprocity with Greece. Worldwide that’s scores of countries. One of those is the United States.

Greek police have broken up multiple rings in Athens selling passports and other documents to Syrians. They are taking down new criminal enterprises selling false documents at the rate of one a week. The last one was busted only a few days ago.

Some of the documents being sold are forgeries manufactured in workshops in Greece and the Balkans. Some are legitimate documents “stolen” from their rightful owners.

The term “stolen” here is more a term of art than a fact. In most cases, the passports are purchased from their owners, who agree not to report the documents missing for a certain period of time.

This means the documents don’t just look real. They are real, and they are backstopped in every database a border control or law enforcement agency might check.

The rings busted by the Greeks to date have been selling literally hundreds of sets of false documents a day in some cases. This has been going on not just for months, but for years.

One ring alone was estimated to have sold 10,000 sets of false documents.

ISIS operatives traveling on Greek documents would arrive on U.S. soil without tripping any alarms or fitting any profile on which law enforcement or intelligence agencies are focused.

They would then be able to move, plan and prepare for attacks disguised as foreign tourists or businessmen without any fear of attracting notice or attention. They would not be citizens of a nation known to be a war zone and a haven for extremism.

They would be citizens of a friendly European nation.

The proliferation of criminal rings selling large numbers of Greek, and other EU, passports ought to be setting off alarm bells all over the United States.

We should be moving aggressively to screen all travelers whose trips originated from known cities, such as Athens and Istanbul, where the trade in false documents is particularly widespread.

We would be well advised to be contemplating going further, perhaps even suspending visa reciprocity temporarily, with nations like Greece, which appear to have lost control over their systems for providing national identity documents.

None of these things, of course, are happening. Our President and his supporters on Capitol Hill respond to any and all suggestions that we should be doing more to protect ourselves against infiltration with accusations of “Islamaphobia” and “racism." 

They assure us that there is nothing to fear, that ISIS is “contained” and that climate change is a more immediate threat to the security of American citizens.

People are shot in cafes and theaters in Paris. Entire Western European cities are put on lockdown. Americans are killed in broad daylight on our soil.

We are scolded and told that our concerns are hysterical and unfounded.

We, those of us with common sense and an instinct for survival, are not reassured.

Virgil in the Aenid warned of the danger of Greeks bearing gifts, a reference to the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy. Perhaps today we would be better advised to beware of Greeks bearing passports.

The Trojans paid a heavy price for complacency and a lack of vigilance.

We would do well to act now if we wish to avoid a similar fate.                                            
Charles S. Faddis, president of Orion Strategic Services, LLC, is a former CIA operations officer with 20 years of experience in the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. He is the senior intelligence editor for AND Magazine and a contributor to a wide variety of counterterrorism and homeland security journals. His nonfiction works include "Operation Hotel California," a history of the actions of his team inside Iraq from 2002 to 2003. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.


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We would be well advised suspending visa reciprocity temporarily, with nations like Greece, which appear to have lost control over their systems for providing national identity documents. We would do well to act now.
Emerging Threats, Homeland Security, War on Terrorism
Tuesday, 08 December 2015 11:22 AM
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