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How terrorists get away with fake passports

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | February 06, 2009 14:14 IST

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Coverage: 26/11 terror attacks
It is common knowledge that terrorists travel on fake passports and almost 9 out of 10 times they manage to give security agencies the slip.

Intelligence Bureau officials tell that terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] have a fixed set of guidelines for terrorists with false passports, identification cards and record books.

Lashkar operatives like Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed -- the prime accused in the January 1, 2008 attack on the Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur and the December 28, 2005 attack on the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore -- have disclosed to interrogators that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence arranged their fake passports.

Sabahuddin has claimed that an ISI officer organised his journey to the airport in Pakistan to ensure that he had a safe passage into India.

IB officials list the guidelines that terrorists follow while dealing with passports, record books and also identification cards.

  • All documents, which lead up to creating a fake passport or an identification card should be falsified. There should be nothing genuine about the documents that help create these important documents.
  • All the false information provided on either the identification card or the passport should be memorised by the terrorist. In case the man is questioned, he should not be seen fumbling when asked for information regarding details as mentioned in the fake identification or forged passport. He should have on his finger tips, the false name, place of residence and also the profession. In case a top terrorist is travelling outside the country, it is ensured that he has multiple identification cards and passports.
  • A person carrying multiple documents should not have similar details in them. The names, addresses and profession on each of these documents should be different.
  • All identification cards and the passports, which terrorists have in their possession, have photographs without beards. This is to avoid suspicion, the IB says.
  • The validity of documents should be confirmed. Great care is taken while preparing these documents and the date of validity is very carefully entered in these documents.
  • There is a terminology called procedural control, which is used while carrying such falsified documents. All documents should be carried safely and not in a haphazardly manner. Terrorist outfits are also very strict about safe possession of a document as they do not encourage creating the document once again in case it is lost as frequenting government offices to recreate a document would only raise alarm bells.
  • In case a terrorist is married, then the name of his spouse or even his marital status should not be mentioned in the passport or any other document that he is carrying. This, the IB says, is done to ensure that no trail is left in case they are caught.
  • Lastly, extreme care is taken to ensure that the terrorist is not travelling to a country where the forged passport is made. So if an Indian passport is made for a terrorist sitting in Pakistan then he is told not to travel to India. If he needs to travel to India, then he would have to have a passport of a different country. Terror groups feel that this is an extremely important guideline since it is easy to detect forgery.

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