American authorities are warning that followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) may have infiltrated American borders with authentic-looking passports ISIS has printed itself with its own machines, an intelligence report obtained by ABC News finds.
The 17-page Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Intelligence Report, issued to law enforcement last week, says ISIS likely has been able to print legitimate-looking Syrian passports since taking over the city of Deir ez-Zour, which has a passport office with “boxes of blank passports” and a passport printing machine.
Another passport office was located in Raqqa, Syria, which has long been ISIS’s de facto capital, according to ABC News.
“Since more than 17 months [have] passed since Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour fell to ISIS, it is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these ISIS controlled cities or who had passport blanks, may have traveled to the U.S.,” the report says.
The report notes that the primary source for the information was rated at “moderate confidence,” the second-highest rating given for source assessments. Testifying before lawmakers Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey first publicly revealed the nation’s top security officials’ very real anxiety over the problem.
“The intelligence community is concerned that they [ISIS] have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting,” Comey said, according to ABC.
Former Department of Homeland Security intelligence official and ABC News consultant John Cohen said, “If ISIS has been able to acquire legitimate passports or machines that create legitimate passports, this would represent a major security risk in the United States.”
Fake Syrian passports have already been discovered in Europe, most notably two used by suicide bombers in the horrific terrorist attack on Paris last month.
The two men are believed to have slipped into Europe with the many Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their homeland, a fact which prompted concerns by governors from at least 24 states who announced they would block the program to resettle Syrian migrants within their borders.
The Obama administration, however, is adamant about going through with the refugee program, and has told state officials across the country that states do not have legal authority to refuse to accept Syrian refugees.
The DHS report included one example in which law enforcement officials said that a Syrian passport discovered in Turkey was printed with a designator number indicating it had been printed in an ISIS-controlled area earlier this year.
The report also said it is unclear what state the “blank” passports stolen from Deir ez-Zour were in or if they were completely blank. It also notes that the “whereabouts of the passport machine(s) remain fluid,” according to ABC.
The HSI report’s last page contains a warning: “If ISIS ability to produce passports is not controlled, their operations will continue to increase and expand outside of their operational controlled areas.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)