Interpol warns on use of false passports


VINA DEL MAR, Chile (AP) — The head of Interpol urged governments to do more checking on lost and stolen passports, warning they could be used to smuggle terrorists into countries in the Americas.

The agency’s secretary general, Ronald Noble, told the opening of the Americas Interpol conference that too few passports are reported as lost or stolen — and too few are checked against international databases of missing documents when travelers cross borders.

He said that Central American countries “have become the main transit point for Iraqis being smuggled into the United States,” with Interpol tracking 74 cases of Iraqis traveling with fraudulent passports from various European countries. Only 24 of those documents had been reported to Interpol as lost or stolen.

Noble said that only one of every three of travelers entering American nations in 2008 had their passports checked against Interpol’s database of stolen or lost travel documents.

“Think about how simple if would be for al-Qaida terrorists to slip into or through your countries in order to plan and carry out the same kind of deadly terrorist attacks that occur far too frequently in Iraq,” Noble told the 60 senior police officers from around the Americas attending the three-day conference.

Noble did not specify what sort of Iraqis were being smuggled. Mexican officials say many of those found in their country are Iraqi Christians trying to reach relatives in the United States.

Noble also said it is easy to imagine street gangs and terrorist networks jointly exploiting each others money, manpower and local knowledge, though he said reports of such collaboration have not been confirmed.

He noted that cocaine trafficking is used to finance both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Hezbollah.