30 refugees in the Netherlands have jihadi watch list passports: NRC

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Around 30 people who applied for asylum in 2015 and 2016 had passports which were flagged as possibly belonging to jihadis but none were found to be a danger to national security, the justice ministry had told the NRC.

The paper says IS and other jihadi groups have stolen thousands of blank passports during their campaigns in Syrian cities and the serial numbers of the passports are now on a European watch list.

The NRC says asylum seekers have given various explanations for how they obtained the passports, usually saying they came via family members. ‘Police and the AIVD security service have not found any evidence that these asylum seekers are active in jihadi groups or form a danger,’ the paper said.

Four of the people involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015 had entered Greece on such passports, the paper said. Two were picked up because they did not know enough about the cities where their passports had been issued but the other two were able to travel on to the French capital, where they blew themselves up.

‘This shows that IS is using the documents to get its fighters into Europe,’ said Leiden University’s terrorism expert Jelle van Buuren. ‘But at the same time, it is such chaos in Syria that the passports could have easily ended up with someone else.’

Meanwhile, two Dutch jihadi suspects have been arrested at Schiphol airport after first reporting to the Dutch consulate in Istanbul. The two, who left for Syria in 2015, will appear in court later on Monday for a remand hearing.

They are already being tried in absentia.

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