Location Greece Greece

Fake passports found in Greek refugee camps linked to Islamic State

The European Union’s counter terrorism agency has identified fake passports destined for alleged members of the Islamic State group in Greek refugee camps, an Italian newspaper has claimed.

According to the daily, La Stampa, officials from Europol conducted an investigation into the trafficking of fake documents for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in four countries – Iraq, Syria, Greece and Austria – in a bid to follow a trail of false identity papers and how they were being used to breach borders.

Europol officials could not be contacted for comment in The Hague on Sunday.

The paper said there were concerns about how potential terrorists from Syria and Iraq may have avoided government controls in Greece by hiding among refugees and using false Syrian passports to make their way to Austria and other parts of Europe.

“In particular they have identified fake passports in the refugee camps in Greece that were destined to supposed members of ISIS (Isil),” La Stampa said.

At least two of the perpetrators of November’s terror attacks in Paris re-entered Europe from Syria posing as refugees and travelling on false Syrian documents.

The Italian report was published amid renewed concern about the wave of new arrivals in Greece this week as the country’s coastguard rescued dozens of migrants after their boat ran aground off the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese.

A total of 58,000 migrants have landed in Greece since the closure of the so-called “Western Balkan route” last February which effectively sealed Greece’s northern border to migrants .

Government figures showed 261 migrants or refugees arrived on Greek islands in the 24 hours from Thursday morning to Friday morning – a jump compared to recent figures, which had ranged from a few dozen to about 150 per day

The International Organisation for Migration says that 266,026 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea to August 17 – more than 162,015 landed in Greece.

In July Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) helped the Austrian and Hungarian authorities smash an Austrian-based organised crime group involved in migrant smuggling.

Law enforcement officers arrested six individuals in Austria and one in Hungary. Europol said the mastermind of the gang, a 44-year-old Syrian national, was recruiting drivers in Austria and deploying them to Hungary.

The smugglers were charging around €300 to transport migrants from Hungary to Vienna and between €700 to €800 from Hungary to Germany. The crime network is suspected to have smuggled over 200 migrants who were of Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian origin.

Europol said in a statement at least 10 people smuggling cases had been uncovered in Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia by law enforcement authorities in recent months.

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