US officials are concerned Islamic State may have taken possession of a passport printing machine, which it is using to print fake passports for its operatives to use to infiltrate American and other countries, ABC News has reported.
According to an intelligence report obtained by the news network, jihadists may have already used the forged documents to enter US territory.
It is believed the terror group took hold of the printing machine after gaining control of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour last year. The city houses a passport office with “dozens of blank passports” and a printing machine, according to the report. More passports could also have been made in the IS-controlled city of Raqqa.
“It is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these (IS) controlled cities…may have traveled to the US,” the report by the Department of Homeland Security says.
On Wednesday FBI chief James Comey acknowledged the concern to lawmakers.
“The intelligence community is concerned that they have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports,” he said.
Concern over IS infiltration into Europe and the US is rising, with intelligence agencies racing to prevent radicalized citizens as well as foreign jihadists from launching attacks inside Western nations.
Two of the suicide bombers in the recent Paris terror attacks are believed to have used fake Syrian passports.
The European Union border agency has warned that trafficking in fake Syrian passports has increased as hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty try to get refugee status in the continent.
The report warns that “If (Islamic State’s) ability to produce passports is not controlled, their operations will continue to increase and expand outside of their operational controlled areas.”
AP contributed to this report.