The Islamic State group has stolen blank passports from Syria, Iraq and Libya and established a "true industry of fake passports," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Cazeneuve made the claim following a meeting with top European interior ministers in Amsterdam, where he proposed creating a special task force to catch terrorists attempting to enter the European Union with fake documents.
At least two of the Islamic State group terrorists involved in the Paris attacks in November are believed to have used fake Syrian passports to disguise themselves as refugees and sneak into Greece through established migrant routes, according to the Daily Mail.
Greek Deputy Interior Minister Nikos Toskas said that Greece had trouble identifying fake passports when 10,000 refugees were arriving every day on a single island at the height of the migratory influx last year.
"We are checking these people, as proved by the Paris perpetrators. When French authorities asked us to check their identity, we found the data and passed it on immediately," Toskas said, according to the WSJ. "But on the issue of fake documents, many are sold on Middle East markets and we know how difficult it is to identify them with good machines, in calm conditions, not when you have 4,000 arriving in a day."
A 17-page Homeland Security Investigations Intelligence Report released to law enforcement last month says that the Islamic State group acquired thousands of blank Syrian passports and at least one official passport printing machine after taking control of Syrian government offices in the city of Deir ez-Zour last summer, reported ABC News. A passport office was also located in the city of Raqqa, the group's de facto capital. The report warned that the terror group may have already used forged passports to sneak into the U.S.
"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 said, rating its primary source for the information at "moderate confidence," the second-highest confidence rating.
The report says that fake Syrian passports can be bought in the country for $200 to $400, as can backdated passports. They are so prevalent that many Syrians no longer view them as illegal, according to ABC News.