A Syria-based journalist for news magazine Nieuwe Revu has managed to obtain a forged Syrian passport and ID card with a photograph of prime minister Mark Rutte on it.
Harald Doornbos paid some €750 for the passport, which he was able to pick up from the forgers within 40 hours.
The fixer told Doornbos that he would be able to enter Cyprus with the passport, which was in the name of Malek Ramadan.
Doornbos said the aim of the exercise had not been to buy a forged passport featuring Rutte, but he had been asked to supply a name and photograph, so he opted for the prime minister.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian war, thousands of blank passports and the Assad government’s printers have ended up in the hands of insurgents, according to Revu. These insurgents will sell passports showing any photo given to them to anyone willing to pay.
Doornbos describes the consequences as terrifying as it will be even more difficult for security services to detect terrorist if getting hold of a fake identity is this easy. Doornbos describes the route a terrorist will take, according to his sources:
“From an ISIS or al-Qaeda area in northern Syria a returning foreign terrorist fighter will travel to Bodrum in western Turkey. From there he makes the illegal crossing to Greece. In Greece he shows his false Syrian passport to the authorities. Since the fake passport gives a fake name, the Greeks have no idea that they are not dealing with a Syrian refugee but a member of ISIS or al-Qaeda. From Greece the journey goes through Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary. After arriving in Schengen member Hungary, the jihadist can travel with his false Syrian passport through all the other Schengen states without any further checks.”