Two suspected members of the terrorist group ISIS have been detained at Istanbul’s main airport after they were caught trying to smuggle at least 150 European passports into Turkey, AFP reports.
The suspects — one Syrian and one Turkish — reportedly hid the passports by stuffing them in mini-pizza ovens. They flew in from a European country and are now being questioned at the anti-terror headquarters of the Istanbul police, according to AFP. Police also reportedly seized hidden cameras, as well as memory and SIM cards.
A Turkish government official told AFP that the passports are fake, but the Dogan news agency reported that they were originals.
A Turkish journalist tweeted this photo, which he says show the passports authorities found on the two suspects:
German, French, and UK passport covers can be seen in the photo.
ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh) is thought to have obtained blank passports and a passport printing machine after it seized the city of Deir Ezzor in Syria, ABC News reported earlier this month. A US intelligence report noted that “it is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these ISIS- controlled cities or who had passport blanks, may have travelled to the US.”
FBI Director James Comey confirmed this assessment, noting in testimony before lawmakers this month that “the intelligence community is concerned that they [ISIS] have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports.”
It’s unclear whether ISIS has the ability to produce fake European passports.
Concerns over passports come at a time when ISIS is reported to be recruiting volunteers to launch attacks in Europe.
A German man who recently returned to the country from Syria told authorities that members of ISIS asked him and another German whether they would be willing to return to their homeland to carry out an attack there, the newspaper Der Spiegel reported this week. He also claimed that while he was in ISIS-held territory, he “frequently heard people talking about attacks in the West” and that “pretty much every European jihadist was approached with the same questions he had been asked,” according to the newspaper.
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