Friday, January 30, 2009 7:53 PM
By: Rick Pedraza
An Americas Report news investigation shows individuals posing a terror threat to the United States are increasingly obtaining access to stolen or doctored passports, which then can be used to obtain visas to enter the U.S. with the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks.
The report notes several instances where this has already happened:
# Four of the 19 hijackers from 9/11 carried genuine Saudi passports that had been "manipulated in a fraudulent manner" to obtain genuine U.S. visas.
# In 2005, four individuals were charged with smuggling dozens of Iraqis and Jordanians into the U.S. through South America beginning in 2001 on stolen European passports.
# In 2007, an NBC News investigation uncovered a black market for stolen passports in Latin America.
# Last week, three Afghani Muslim men were caught carrying genuine stolen Mexican passports with their pictures and data while en route to Europe.
The report notes that Latin America, which now has a large Hezbollah presence, especially in Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Brazil, is increasingly becoming the point of entry because documents are easily obtained.
In addition to those countries is Nicaragua, which has a large Iranian presence. Iran also has a huge embassy in Managua “where diplomats enjoy immunity and the full support of President Daniel Ortega,” the report finds.
The Venezuelan government, lead by President Hugo Chavez, also has issued passports and official documents to members of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose cause Chavez believes in.
Experts agree South America has become a place of preference for terrorists that want to travel to the United States, making it imperative for U.S. agencies responsible for protecting the American public to become more vigilant.
“It now seems that any person wanting to attack this country could use doctored or manipulated passports or could simply travel to Mexico and pay a Coyote to illegally cross the border,” the report concludes. “It’s just a matter of time, if it has not already happened, before a terrorist, is able to get to the United States using a stolen, doctored passport.”