Fooled Again

GOP Guvs Rely on ISIS Lies to Reject Syrian Refugees

Republicans seized on a Paris attacker’s Syrian passport as a reason to keep refugees out. One problem: The passport wasn’t real.

11.16.15 8:40 PM ET

One of the Paris attackers was supposedly found with a Syrian passport—leading Republican governors here in America to vow to block Syrian refugees from entering their states.

But that passport was a fake, French officials told The Wall Street Journal, which means the governors’ freakout over refugees was based, at least in part, on a lie.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, a former member of ISIS emphasized that Syrian passports, like the one found on that Paris terrorist, can be bought from the Syrian regime.

“There are people who go back and forth to Aleppo or Hama or Latakia or Tartus—you give them $1,000 and a nice photograph, and they’ll print you a good passport,” Abu Khaled, a former member the Islamic State’s internal security service, Amn al-Dawleh, said Monday.

“The guys with the regime are corrupt; they’ll give you whatever you want for money,” he added.

That's not the only way to get a fake document, though. A reporter for the London Daily Mail purchased an identical passport online for $2,000. German customs agents in September seized a shipment of fake Syrian passports being sold to asylum seekers from countries like Iraq, Libya, and Egypt. (Syrians get automatic refugee status in the European Union.) Many of the forgeries are suspected to come from Turkey.

French officials told the Journal that Ahmad al-Mohammed, who blew himself up outside the Stade de France, was carrying a counterfeit Syrian passport made for him. Al-Mohammed’s fingerprints matched those on the passport found near his body, the French added.

Greek officials said the information on Al-Mohammed’s passport was run against police databases after he landed in Leros on Oct. 3 and nothing was found. Another man carrying a passport with identical information, but a different photograph, was being used by a man in Serbia who was arrested on Monday.

But was the Paris terrorist-posing-as-refugee that set off a panic stateside. In a sense, Republican governors of 14 states took ISIS at their word, accepting the counterfeit Syrian passport as the reason to deny 10,000 thousands of Syrian refugees from settling in the United States.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a executive order to prevent resettlement, in part because “these attacks were conducted by Islamic extremists, at least one of them a recent Syrian refugee….”

Texas Gov. Gregg Abott also fell for the ISIS ruse.

“A Syrian ‘refugee’ appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack,” he wrote in a letter to the Obama administration on Monday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said no to 425 refugees because “one of the terror attack suspects gained access to France by posing as a Syrian refugee.”

Republican presidential contender Ben Carson went even further, asking House Republicans to defund the administration’s resettlement program.

“The national security of the American people demands that the Congress swiftly extinguish any programs that might allow an ISIS terrorist to infiltrate the United States disguised as a refugee or migrant,” Carson said in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan.

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(Even before Paris, several Republicans used ISIS to argue against even Mexican immigration, saying training camps were across the border.)

Donald Trump already promised to kick out all Syrian refugees if he’s elected president. “If I win, they’re going back,” he said in October after saying earlier he would accept them.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he would allow Syrians already en route to Michigan to stay, but wants further resettlement paused until the Department of Homeland Security reviews its vetting process.

“Most people are not terrorists and we need to be thoughtful about helping people around the world,” he said. “This is just to be prudent to make sure that some terrorist element is not entering our country.”

Previously, he said he asked the federal government to accept refugees to his state.

Governors might not have the power to stop the federal government from resettling refugees once they've been granted status to stay in the U.S. Doing so would only compound the human suffering that has already befallen 4.1 million people displaced from Syria since the civil war began in 2011. Remember, they are fleeing Bashar al-Assad and ISIS, among others.

So far the U.S. has accepted 1,900 refugees in the past two years, or 0.0004 percent of all Syrian refugees.