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TA-THREATS: Thousands of Stolen French Passports Pose a Threat

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posted on Apr, 28 2004 @ 09:39 AM
Thousands of French passports have been stolen over the past year, and officials fear that the passports could be used by terrorist to gain access into the United States. Currently, France is one of the few countries whose citizens can visit the U.S. for up to 90 day without obtaining a visa. With a blank passport, a terrorist could simply insert any picture and name that they wanted, and use it to gain access as a law abiding French citizen. Officials have caught at least one individual trying to use one of the stolen passports, and are sure that there are others that will attempt this in the future.
A recent classified FBI bulletin warns that stolen French passports "are of particular concern" because France is one of 27 countries whose citizens do not need visas to enter the United States for visits of 90 days or less. French citizens need only show their passport to gain entry at a U.S. airport.

Thousands of French passports are known to have been stolen in the past year. On July 22, 2003, two gunmen hijacked a van near Marseille in southern France and stole 5,000 blank passports. Almost two months later, on Sept. 10, hundreds more blank passports were stolen from a courier service near Lyon. And two months ago - in two more robberies in France - thieves stole 9,300 passports and burned a van - apparently to destroy evidence.

The United States is scheduled to begin fingerprinting entrants from all countries except for Mexico and Canada later this year, and by October 2004, all countries must have a computer chip embedded in the passport that gives biometric data, such as fingerprints and eye retina scans. This would make it almost impossible to use a stolen of faked passport. The State Department has expressed worries that many countries may not be able to comply with these request, and has asked Congress for a two year extension to waver the extra requirements for passports.

Additional Sources:
Truth News - US to Fingerprint Travelers From Close Allies

[Edited on 28-4-2004 by dbates]


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