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Police nab 9 suspects in fake JKIA passport scam

30 January 2014, 14:01

Nairobi -  Kenyan police are questioning nine suspects involved in a fake passport and visa cartel after being arrested with 68 forged documents in Nairobi late on Wednesday.

Head of Special Crimes Prevention Unit Noah Katumo told journalists in Nairobi on Thursday that the suspects including a police officer and a Kenya Airways staffer were found with 29 fake passports and 39 visa seals found on them in a security operation in Nairobi.

"We are questioning the nine suspects whom were arrested on Wednesday with fake passport and visa documents. We do not know how many people have managed to pass the airport using these fake documents but we are trying to establish. It seems to be a serious cartel," Katumo said on Thursday.

He cautioned the people behind the racket of dire consequences, saying using or printing a fake passport is a threat to national and international security.

According to Katumo, the suspects include two Ethiopians, two Somalis and two Bangladesh nationals, adding that the Kenya Airways staffer is believed to have been helping other suspects with fake papers to pass through the airport.

Police involved in the operation said the foreigners arrested in Ngara residential estate were headed for Mozambique, South Africa and Angola and later in Europe using the fake papers.

The fake visa documents are for European countries, the officers said. The operation also recovered laptops, printers and laminating machines from the house in Ngara.

Katumo said they are looking for an official at the immigration department after he was mentioned in the cartel and investigations. He said security operations on the other missing and wanted persons are ongoing.

The arrests come after the government announced drastic security measures at border points and all entry points across the East African nation to curtail cross border incursions by Al- Shabaab, fraud and corruption.

Cabinet Secretary in charge of internal security Joseph Ole Lenku said the government will digitize all security registries and link all border entry points through broadband to ensure that data to and from entry points can be accessed in real time.

The enhanced security measures followed attack on the Westgate shopping mall in last September where at least 67 people were killed and more than 200 others injured.

Al-Qaida allied Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the heinous act, terming it as part of revenge mission for cross border incursion in Somalia by Kenyan soldiers.

It also follows impending terrorist attack amid intelligence reports that the insurgents from Somalia are planning to carry out attacks in Kenya and East Africa region.

The government has expressed concern that terrorists are increasingly using fake identification documents to access some areas while planning to attack.

The government recently sacked over 10 workers at the immigration department over corruption allegations after a security audit carried out after the September 21, 2013 Westgate mall terror attack revealed massive fraud in the issuing of identification documents to foreigners, with people paying as little as 470 U.S. dollars for the crucial papers.

The audit, which was carried out after the attack revealed the deals involved top officials and said these were the loopholes Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab exploited to send killers to Kenya through the refugee camps.

The documents included visas, birth certificates, work permits and identification documents. Police now believe terror suspects would not operate freely unless permitted by their local host communities.

However, the troops operating in Somalia, insisted that the defection of some of Al-Shabaab's top intelligence commander enabled the Kenyan side to gain new information about the attack plot and pre-emptive and disruptive strikes were carried out to neutralize the threats further.

- Xinhua


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