WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. government agency report has warned that Islamic State has the ability to create fake Syrian passports, a federal official confirmed on Friday.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the contents of a story by CNN on Friday about the report, but declined to provide a copy of the report.
The report says Islamic State has access to Syrian government passport printing machines and blank passports, raising the possibility the travel documents could be faked, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source. (cnn.it/1Rf6lE1)
The CNN source added that there was also concern that because the militant group had access to biographical and fingerprint data on Syrian citizens, there was also a possibility of identity theft.
ABC News, which first reported the story on Thursday, said the report was released to law enforcement by the Homeland Security Investigations agency last week and raised the possibility that militants could use the documents to travel to the United States. (abcn.ws/1IKPl5I)
“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.,” ABC News quoted the report as saying.
State Department spokesman John Kirby, asked at a briefing on Friday about the ABC report, replied: “We have been aware of reports, not just in the press, that they may have obtained this capability.”
FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday: “The intelligence community is concerned that they [Islamic State] have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting.”
Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Sandra Maler