WASHINGTON — A new intelligence report shared with law enforcement warns of ISIS’ ability to create passports utilizing seized Syrian government assets, according to a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the intelligence report’s contents.
The report warned that, based on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s intelligence sources, ISIS has access to passport printing machines and blank passport books, raising the possibility the documents could be faked, according to the source.
The source noted that, beyond the report, there’s concern that this capability coupled with ISIS access to government buildings in Syria that contain valid biographical data and fingerprint info on Syrian citizens give rise to the threat of identity theft.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said government officials are “mindful” that terrorists could be making false passports.
“We have been aware of reports, not just in the press, that they may have obtained this capability,” he said. “Obviously, it’s something that we take seriously. It’s obviously something, clearly that we’re mindful of.”
ICE issued the warning in recent weeks to U.S. law enforcement, said the source, who confirmed a report by ABC News. The ICE document includes a concern that it is possible someone “may have traveled to the U.S.” using a fake passport, according to an ABC quote of the report.
The concern was discussed this week by FBI Director James Comey in testimony on Capitol Hill.
“The intelligence community is concerned that they have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting,” Comey said.
Maine Independent Sen. Angus Kind told CNN’s Brianna Keilar Friday that the U.S. is moving toward developing passports with chips that have biometric data that cannot be faked.
“I think this tells us that we’ve got to accelerate doing that. But in the world of threats, of course, this is the one of them, but there are lots of other things we have to attend to as well,” King said.