A business of providing fake passports mostly for members of the Islamic State (ISIS) is thriving in Turkey, according to a recent investigative report by The Guardian.
While an Uzbek national with operations based in Turkey was contacted online by a Guardian reporter posing as an ‘interested client’ during the investigation and had the opportunity to have a message chat with him, it was revealed that in at least 10 cases, people who illegally crossed the Syrian border into Turkey have used the documents produced by the Uzbek to depart through Istanbul airport.
The particular network is selling fake passports for up to $15,000, and the sellers claim that the European Union is the most popular destination although in at least two cases people were able to travel from Istanbul to Mexico on fake passports and, from there, illegally over the border into the US, according to the report.
The Uzbek has recently even opened a new channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram with the name ‘Istanbul Global Consulting’.
While the network’s clients are mostly foreign fighters in Syria associated with ISIS and other armed groups who wish to travel to Europe, there are reportedly also clients who may not have a direct affiliation with any of the armed groups.
A foreign woman detained in a camp near the Al Hol refugee camp that houses about 60,000 women and children has posted on a Telegram chat for people in Al Hol: “If you need fake documents from Russia, Central Asia, Turkey, Europe, DM [direct message] me.”
It has also been shown in the article that the document sellers do not provide only passports but also death certificates for fighters who want to ‘disappear’ completely. The Uzbek explained: “Unless you are Abu Bakr Baghdadi [The IS leader, killed in 2019] no one would go to the morgue to check if you really died. They would just accept that document and enter it into the system.”
The Guardian contacted a source at the US Department of Homeland Security for comments. The source said: “There is a particular seller in Turkey who provides ISIS members with very high level [well forged] documents (…) We are aware of ISIS members using these fake passports to cross to Europe, and European security is not successful in arresting them all.”