Counter-Terrorism: September 1, 2004

Archives

  In spite of all of the post-9/11 security measures around the world, people continue to travel on stolen passports. Few countries check to see if incoming passports are known to be missing. The majority of falsified documents are stolen or bought on the black market and easily changed with a new picture. At least one individual wanted in connection with the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister in 2003 was taken into custody with a stolen passport that had been stamped by border control police 26 times across six countries, including many trips to Greece and Switzerland. 

Interpol is pushing an effort to link the 181 member nations into a stolen travel documents database that will let immigration officials around the globe screen incoming passports. The database holds information for 1.7 million stolen passports and other documents and is small enough to fit on a floppy disk. There are believed to be as many as ten million stolen and fake passports in circulation.

Unfortunately, participation by countries in better passport control efforts has also been slow, with only 49 countries regularly sending Interpol data. Privacy protection laws in many countries is preventing the disclosure of data on stolen travel documents. Interpol is developing methods to provide a "clearing house" whereby individual nations check their own databases when given a query rather than transfer information; once a hit has been discovered, the two counties involved can make direct arrangements to exchange data. Other systems for DNA and fingerprint comparison are also in the works.

Many travel documents in the existing Interpol database are blank passports stolen from consulates around the world. Unless the actual passport number is checked, there are typically no clues to indicate the document has been falsified. Belgium passports have been a particular headache. In that country, town governments issue passports, so thieves frequently break into the town hall and steal blanks. 

Finally, Interpol is pushing to make the database directly accessible to immigration service officials at border checkpoints. Even in the United States, access to the stolen documents database is only available through a secure Internet connection at the Interpol National Central Bureau. Interpol says nearly 200 stolen travel documents were discovered from January through July this year. Doug Mohney

 


Article Archive

Counter-Terrorism: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 


X

ad
$0
$2000

Help Keep StrategyPage Off The Rocky Shoals!

January, February and March are notoriously low ad revenue months online. And StrategyPage has not been spared. We need to raise $2000 in combined subscriptions and contributions to keep us cruising into next month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close