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Friday, January 27, 2006

Colombia cracks false passport ring

This is a bizzare story....

Colombia cracks false passport ring

Colombia has dismantled a false passport ring with links to al-Qaida and Hamas members, the acting attorney general said after authorities led dozens of simultaneous raids across five cities in collaboration with US officials.

In Washington, however, Justice and Homeland Security officials were surprised by the announcement Thursday of the investigation, which they said involved people posing as members of Colombia's largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC - not al-Qaida or Hamas.

Colombian officials said the gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever setting foot in the country.

An undisclosed number of those arrested are wanted for working with the al-Qaida terror network and the Hamas, said acting Attorney General Jorge Armando Otalora.

The counterfeit Colombian, Spanish, Portugese and German passports were used to enter the United States and Europe, he said.

But Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said an indictment unsealed Wednesday in Miami charges 10 foreign nationals with smuggling "people that they thought were members of FARC into the United States."


US officials have long feared al-Qaida could take advantage of corrupt government officials and weak institutions to launch an attack from south of the border. [You mean like Mexico? CiJ]


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