Terrorists among 10,000 a Year Who Obtain Passports by Fraud ; HOME

By Morris, Nigel | The Independent (London, England), March 21, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Terrorists among 10,000 a Year Who Obtain Passports by Fraud ; HOME


Morris, Nigel, The Independent (London, England)


Convicted terrorists are among the 10,000 criminals fraudulently obtaining passports every year, the Home Office admitted as it set out plans to crack down on abuse of the system. From May, new passport applicants will face personal interviews at which they must prove their identity. They will also be quizzed from a pool of around 200 questions about their family, financial history and recent addresses.

The Home Office disclosed that about 16,500 of the six million passport applications per year are fraudulent. Some 6,500 are detected by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), but an estimated 10,000 bogus applicants get through.

Officials admitted nine passports were issued to Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for life last year for plotting to kill thousands of people with "dirty" bombs and explosions on Tube trains. He had seven passports in his name and two in fraudulent identities.

Another two British passports were obtained by Salaheddine Benyaich, a Moroccan man serving 18 years for his part in the 2003 Casablanca bombings, in which 44 died.

Joan Ryan, the Home Office minister, said attempted fraud was "increasing and getting more sophisticated". A network of 69 passport offices at which new passport applicants will be interviewed will be set up this year, with the first four opening in May in Peterborough, Belfast, Glasgow and Newport.

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