The BBC has discovered it is possible for illegal migrants to acquire EU travel documents within just a few hours — badly undermining border controls and endangering British and European security.
The publicly-funded broadcaster conducted its investigation in Istanbul in Turkey, where at least 4.5 million migrants are encamped.
“There are just so many Facebook groups where people are buying and selling passports, travel documents, and European residency IDs,” reveals the BBC’s reporter. “I’ve clicked on this one group, and it has over 5,000 active members.”
To find out how easy it is to actually acquire these documents, the BBC put up an advertisement for a passport for someone around 30-years-old — receiving a dozen responses within hours.
Posing as a Syrian couple, the female reporter and a male arrange to a discussion with a so-called ‘broker’, and sit down to a meeting with men claiming to have dozens of travel documents for sale.
“This passport still works within the EU. If you use it everything will be fine,” says one. “It’s 100 per cent genuine.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 8, 2016
The criminals claim the documents are supplied by ‘refugees’ who decide Europe is not for them and return home, and that travelling with them is easy provide the holder does not look too unlike the person in the picture.
They do not have any British passports for sale — these are said to be more expensive — but the reporters are able to acquire German documents easily enough.
(Holders of most EU documents are able to exercise full EU Free Movement rights in the United Kingdom, however, and are subject to less stringent checks than non-EU passport-holders.)
“I don’t think I realised how simple this process is until now,” the BBC reporter admits.
“We went from talking to the broker on Facebook, to meeting him a few hours later, and now I’m holding the document in my hand.
“In theory this enables you to travel across the EU Schengen territory,” she adds — referring to the borderless, continent-spanning zone connecting most Continental EU members, which former INTERPOL chief Robert Noble has denounced as “an international passport-free zone for terrorists to execute attacks … and make their escape.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 23, 2016
The BBC took their findings to the German parliament, where Stephen Mayer — a spokesman for Angela Merkel’s weakened coalition government — admitted that the scale of the problem was “quite huge”.
“For us in Germany, it’s a tremendous problem, because our task must be to prevent terrorists from travelling to Germany using stolen or lost documents or false documents,” he added.
Anis Amri, a Tunisian migrant who was able to carry out a deadly truck ramming on a Christmas market in Berlin despite having previously been jailed in Italy and his German asylum application rejected, used at least fourteen different identities while he was in the country, and escaped across multiple European borders after fleeing the scene of his attack.