BEIRUT: A 14 strong-ring, who aided the movement of terrorists by printing fake passports with forged Lebanese and Arab government seals, has been arrested by the Lebanese authorities.
A security source told The Daily Star that State Security members in Zahle, east Lebanon, arrested the ring - comprised of six Syrians and eight Lebanese - for printing fake passports and forging entry permits to several Arab countries.
Some of the suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Lebanon earlier this year and late last year carried fake ID cards, and the vehicles used in the bombings were registered and legal.
The original owners of some of the vehicles had sold their cars to buyers who would then sell them, either deliberately or unbeknown to them, to people affiliated with terrorist groups.
During a raid on the ring’s location, security forces confiscated seals of official offices in Lebanon and Arab countries, including seals for officials and airport officers in Libya, UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Aside from printing U.S. dollars and Euros, the gang confessed that the passports were intended for “members of terrorist organizations that are moving between Arab countries.”
Investigation revealed that the gang worked with a printing shop in the Bekaa Valley to forge other seals. The source refused to identify the shop’s exact location.
The security agency raided the shop and confiscated some 150 seals for Lebanese government offices including; the vehicle registry center; General Security; the finance and labor ministries; Customs Department; engineering and farmers’ unions; public notaries; religious courts; real estate inspectors; and Lebanese banks. Some of the fake seals represented Syrian government officers, border crossings and Syrian army directorates.
They also confiscated a number of fake driving licenses and Lebanese and Syrian ID cards, the source said.
The gang would sell such seals for “hundreds of dollars,” taking advantage of the inability of some Syrian government directorates to issue ID cards or personal documents.