As Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper is carrying a story about tens of thousands of blank Syrian passports now in the hands of IS – with the potential to be used by ‘false’ refugees to gain entry to Europe – Portugal’s Expresso has revealed that two men suspected of links to the terrorist organisation were detained in Turkey earlier this week in possession of a blank but valid Portuguese passport.
The passport was among a haul of 148 equally blank but valid passports of multiple nationalities discovered in five mini pizza ovens, described as “the baggage of one of the men”, explains Expresso.
According to the paper’s information, “the majority of the passports are from France, with examples also from Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Lithuania, Austria, Belgium, Poland and Italy”.
Turkish authorities did not discover the haul “by chance”, adds the paper.
The men – Ahmad A, a 58-year-old Syrian, and Bahri O, a 54-year-old Turkish man resident in Belgium, were already under suspicion for having travelled “several times” to areas of Syria controlled by IS/ Daesh.
Police moved in when they heard of the “imminent arrival of various foreign passports to be distributed to Daesh militants in Turkey”.
Vigilance at Ataturk international airport was stepped up, and the men’s haul apprehended.
As well as the passports, a French driving licence, two pens with hidden cameras, ten phone cards “with Turkish operators and various European countries”, and dozens of pendrives, were seized.
The alleged jihadists are now in police custody, writes Expresso, as the investigation centres on how the passports were obtained and how IS was going to use them.