Wednesday 7 December 2016

Paris Terror Attacks: Holder of Syrian passport found in Paris attack 'passed through several EU nations as refugee'

Ivana Sekularac and Igor Ilic

Published 15/11/2015 | 12:47

A policeman crys as he places flowers outside the Bataclan concert hall the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris Credit: Charles Platiau (REUTERS)
A policeman crys as he places flowers outside the Bataclan concert hall the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris Credit: Charles Platiau (REUTERS)

The holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night's attacks in Paris was registered as a refugee in several European countries last month, authorities said.

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The man, identified by Serbian authorities only by his initials A.A., came into Europe through the Greek island of Leros, where he was processed on October 3rd, Greek officials said on Saturday.

He was among 70 refugees who arrived on a small vessel from Turkey.

Read More: Paris Terror Attacks: New footage shows moment Paris gunmen began shooting in Bataclan theatre

Serbian authorities said on Sunday the same man had been registered at a border crossing from Macedonia into Serbia a few days later.

Police activity by the Bataclan concert hall, where the Syrian passport was found Credit: Steve Parsons (PA Wire)
Police activity by the Bataclan concert hall, where the Syrian passport was found Credit: Steve Parsons (PA Wire)
An unnamed man brings his portable grand piano and plays John Lennon's Imagine by the Bataclan Credit: John Walton (PA Wire)
A French policeman assists a blood-covered victim near the Bataclan concert hall following attacks in Paris Credit: Philippe Wojazer (REUTERS)

"One of the suspected terrorists, A.A., who is of interest to the French security agencies, was registered on the Presevo border crossing on October 7 this year, where he formally sought asylum," the Serbian interior ministry said in a statement.

"Checks have confirmed that his details match those of the person who on October 3 was identified in Greece. There was no Interpol warrant issued against this person."

Read More: Paris Terror Attack: Severed finger used to identify Omar Ismail Mostefai as one of the Paris gunmen

A spokeswoman for the Croatian interior ministry said the man was registered in the country's Opatovac refugee camp on October 8 and from there he crossed into Hungary and then Austria.

"There was no (police) record about him at the time of registration and there was no reason for us to stop him in any way," she said.

A watch lays on the ground outside the Bataclan concert hall Credit: Christophe Ena (AP)
A watch lays on the ground outside the Bataclan concert hall Credit: Christophe Ena (AP)

Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said however the assertion that the suspect attacker had passed through Austria had "no concrete basis."

"According to the latest information available, that is no more than conjecture and speculation," he said.

Read More: Paris Terror Attacks: Wexford woman caught in Paris attacks feels lucky to be alive

Jue Jue Than poses for a photograph at a memorial to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks, at the official residence for the French ambassador to Myanmar in Yangon Credit: Olivia Harris (REUTERS)
Jue Jue Than poses for a photograph at a memorial to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks, at the official residence for the French ambassador to Myanmar in Yangon Credit: Olivia Harris (REUTERS)

Any identity documents and fingerprint records would have to be matched with the remains of the attackers to establish whether they passed through various countries posing as refugees, or perhaps bought or stole passports along the way.

Greek government sources said a second suspect attacker was also likely to have passed through Greece.

Following the Paris bloodshed, populist leaders around Europe have rushed to demand a halt to an influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Poland said it could not accept migrants under EU quotas without security guarantees.

Read More: Paris Terror Attack: Poland's new government uses massacre to reject EU refugee quotas

A woman with a ribbon in the colors of the French national flag attached to her hat stands next to flowers, laid to commemorate victims of attacks in Paris, near the French embassy in Moscow Credit: Maxim Zmeyev (REUTERS)
A woman with a ribbon in the colors of the French national flag attached to her hat stands next to flowers, laid to commemorate victims of attacks in Paris, near the French embassy in Moscow Credit: Maxim Zmeyev (REUTERS)

Human Rights Watch's Emergency Director Peter Bouckaert said on Twitter the Syrian passport found may have been fake, adding such fake documents are widely available for sale in Turkey.

"The answer to the Paris attacks and the possibility that one of the attackers came by rubber dinghy to Greece... is not to shut the door on those desperately fleeing war," he said, calling for Europe to put in place a coherent asylum policy that would both help those on need and address security concerns raised by uncontrolled flows.

"People fleeing war need refuge. And trying to build fences and stopping them at sea only drives them deeper into the hands of criminal gangs, and drives them underground where there is no control over who comes and goes."

Reuters

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