Seller whose passports have been used by those who illegally crossed Syrian border says: ‘it is not my job to see who is bad’

One such network, run by an Uzbek with extremist links living in Turkey, is now selling high-quality fake passports for up to $15,000 (£11,132) purporting to be from various countries. In at least 10 cases the Guardian is aware of, people who illegally crossed the Syrian border into Turkey have used his products to depart through Istanbul airport.

Sellers claim the EU is the most popular destination but say in at least two cases people were able to travel from Istanbul to Mexico on fake Russian passports and, from there, illegally over the border into the US. Niger and Mauritania are also popular destinations, as are Ukraine and Afghanistan.

The Uzbek’s business is doing so well he recently opened a new channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram with the official-sounding name “Istanbul Global Consulting”. The growing trade suggests that dangerous extremists could be slipping under the radar of security services around the world, escaping justice for past crimes and potentially able to continue terrorist activity in countries other than Syria.

“I do not ask about which group someone is with. I am willing to work with anyone,” the Uzbek said in a message chat with the Guardian, which posed as an interested client. “It is not my job to see who is bad and who is not. The security services should deal with it.”

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