Hundreds of illegal Iranian migrants including suspected Islamist terrorists, were smuggled into Britain by a gang selling fake passports for up to £12,500, Greek investigators have said.
Greek and British police smashed a people-smuggling ring, arresting 33 suspects who were allegedly involved in moving migrants from Iran to Europe.
They targeted Iranians due to their relative wealth, selling them high-quality false passports allowing them to catch flights from Athens to the UK, Spain and France.
The gang was eventually caught by a joint operation between Britain’s National Crime Agency, Greece’s Organised Crime Unit and Europol, resulting in 24 arrests in Athens and nine in Glasgow, Manchester and Northampton.
Officials have not ruled out “credible suspicions” that the network may have allowed terrorists into Europe by providing them with doctored documents. One of the gang members arrested was a suspected Islamist, giving rise to fears the group may have helped supporters of Islamic State enter Britain.
An investigator told The Times: “There’s no concrete evidence yet but the working assumption is that an Algerian terrorist in Spain was operating with an Algerian terrorist in Greece.”
Chris Hogben of the National Crime Agency told reporters in Athens the network was responsible for smuggling “hundreds of Iranian migrants” into Britain. Up to 1,100 migrants in total may have used the gang to enter Europe.
The arrests come as the flow of migrants into Greece shows no sign of slowing.
Breitbart London reported this weekend about allegations Turkey was “dissolving” migrant camps and allowing their inhabitants to travel across the Mediterranean.
Greek port authorities also reported that the Turkish coastguard, which usually operates in the area, had “disappeared”.
Last month, Greek intelligence disclosed that Turkey was plans to allow 3,000 migrants to leave their shores and head to Greece per day.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Edorgan has threatened to flood Europe with migrants if it does not grant Turkish citizens visa-free access to the European Union. With that now looking unlikely, Greek intelligence believes it is only a matter of time before he opens the floodgates.
“No one is underestimating Mr Erdoğan and his unpredictability these days,” Athanassios Drougas, an intelligence analyst said.
“These plans, along with explicit threats that the Turkish president has made in recent weeks, have Greece’s joint chiefs of staff seriously concerned.”