TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran authorities have detained five Syrian nationals who were trying to reach the United States using stolen Greek passports, but there are no signs of any links to last week’s attacks in Paris, police said.
The Syrian men were held late on Tuesday in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on arrival from Costa Rica, and had been planning to head to the border with neighboring Guatemala. The passports had been doctored to replace the photographs with those of the Syrians, police said.
“We received information from (fellow) police services that these five Syrians left Greece and passed through Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and San Jose in Costa Rica before finally reaching Tegucigalpa,” said Anibal Baca, spokesman for Honduras’ police. “They are normal Syrians.”
U.S. Republican lawmakers defied President Barack Obama on Wednesday and set out plans following last week’s deadly Paris attacks to tighten screening of Syrian refugees.
Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians next year from the war-torn country. But his plan faces stiff resistance from Republicans, concerned some of the refugees could be associated with Islamic State.
Reports that at least one of the Paris attackers was believed to have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece prompted several Western countries to begin to question their willingness to take in refugees.
Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Simon Gardner and Peter Cooney